Two of three county Republican Committee-endorsed candidates were the top vote-getters in the Front Royal Town Council race Tuesday night. Incumbent Gary Gillispie led the pack with 2,361 votes (22%) followed by former councilman and vice-mayor Chris Holloway with 2,027 (19%).
However, first-time candidate LeTasha Thompson finished ahead of the third Republican Committee-endorsed candidate Alford D. Carter by a 1,881 (18%) to 1,703 (16%) margin for the third council seat up for grabs this year.
Defeated was incumbent Councilman Chris Morrison who finished in fifth place of six candidates, with 1,438 votes (14%). Robert “Robbie” Tennett drew 1,127 votes (11%) in sixth place.
During his campaign, Morrison had bemoaned the fact that his federal employment prevented him from carrying a political party endorsement due to Hatch Act regulations against partisan political activity by those employed by the federal government.
In fact, some criticism was leveled at the partisan overtone brought by the level of endorsement from the Republican Committee to what is by town charter a non-partisan town election. Legally, that prohibition on partisan elections simply means the ballot carries no party identification next to candidate names.
While as usual, both major parties had polling place sites, Republican booth workers were most assertive in handing out sample ballots indicating the Republican-endorsed town council candidates along with federal-level candidates. But with a new political player on the block, assertive tactics weren’t limited to one party on Election Day.
A social media video posted Tuesday afternoon showed Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz get into a verbal altercation with local attorney David Downes about the placement of a “Beer Party” booth in front of a Republican candidate display at one polling place. Downes, who is also the proprietor of the Virginia Beer Museum, created the “Beer Party” in recent weeks in protest of the increasing partisanship displayed in the Republican endorsements of council candidates.
Lately, Downes has found himself at odds with some local Republican Committee members over his attempt to get a parking exemption to expand the Beer Museum Beer Garden in the rear of his business addresses on the 100 block of Chester Street.
In fact, third-place council finisher Thompson was one of three candidates endorsed by the Beer Party. The other two were Morrison and Tennett, who both finished “out of the money” Tuesday.
In a less contentious race, running unopposed incumbent Hollis Tharpe drew 3,463 of 3,795 votes cast in the Front Royal mayoral race. Write-ins accounted for the other 332 votes cast in the mayor’s race. There was no indication how those write-ins were distributed.
Handing out results at the County Registrar’s Office around 8:30 p.m. Circuit Court Clerk Darryl Funk said that while there remained provisional ballots to be counted Tuesday evening, it did not appear there were enough to alter the electoral result in the local races.
As this story was submitted, with nearly 96% of Virginia precincts reporting incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Kaine had a 1,641,348 (58.87%) to 1,237,248 (42.12%) vote lead over Republican challenger Corey Stewart.
In Virginia’s Sixth District race for the U.S. House of Representatives, retiring Republican Robert Goodlatte’s handpicked successor Ben Cline had a commanding lead over Democrat Jennifer Lewis, 148,182 (59.78%) to 99,432 (40.12%).
However in a hotly-watched race, Republican U.S. 10th District House incumbent Barbara Comstock trailed Democrat Jennifer Wexton by a 174,021 (54.93%) to 142,278 (44.91%) margin.