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One year before national Republicans are counting on ejecting Barack Obama from the White House, they and their various extremist causes took a whipping last week at the polls.
The best result was in Ohio, where voters rejected Gov. John Kasich’s attempt to destroy the public sector unions. By a wide margin, Ohio voters repealed a law passed in the spring that would have prohibited bargaining for health care benefits by teachers, firefighters and other state employees.
Ohio has always been a strong, pro-labor state, one not burdened by a so-called “right to work” law. Most of its citizens prefer to keep it that way.
In Maine, voters saw through a Republican attempt to reduce the number of people who can actually cast ballots. Maine has an Election Day registration law, so you can register and vote on the same day.
Conservative Republicans always look for ways to reduce the number of people voting, and they often oppose anything that makes it easier for the poor and minorities to vote. They sought to repeal the Election Day registration law, but were soundly rejected.
In Mississippi, those obsessed with abortion thought they had a way to get around Roe v. Wade. They got what they called a “personhood amendment” on the state ballot.
This would have given legal rights to a fertilized egg. But 58 percent of voters – and this was in Mississippi, a true Deep South notch in the Bible Belt – said, “You know what? An egg isn’t a person; this is ridiculous.” It was voted down.
The Arizona sheriff who was the inspiration for the draconian immigration law in that state was re-called. In Kentucky, a popular Democratic governor was re-elected despite the fact that unemployment in his state is even higher than the national average.
One could easily conclude that, generally speaking, voters aren’t pining away for conservative rule. That’s a wonderful omen for 2012.
Locally, things pretty much turned out as we all expected. I was particularly delighted to see a true Virginia statesman, John Edwards of Roanoke, returned to the state senate, where he will be needed very much.
There was, however, one outrage in this region that needs to be addressed. In the 59th House district, basically encompassing Nelson, Buckingham and Appomattox counties (with precincts from Campbell County added to help the Republicans), voters rewarded a lousy candidate with a victory he did not deserve.
Republican Matt Farris campaigned very little. He never showed up at a single debate against his Democratic opponent, Connie Brennan. He rarely attended local events and wouldn’t talk to the press, for the most part.
He couldn’t raise much money, so the state Republican Party did it for him, throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign.
But reporters discovered that Fariss not only had a DUI in his recent past, but that he had also received a protective order against him from his wife, and had several court judgments against him for various debts.
Even after he won, Fariss didn’t seem to care much. He didn’t show up for his own victory party. Excuse me…but, where did they find this guy?
So, Brennan, a veteran of the Nelson County board of supervisors, who campaigned hard, and even had the endorsement of Lynchburg’s conservative newspaper, was defeated by this truly awful candidate.
It’s so sad that many rural voters in that district (and many in Bedford County, too) would vote for the Devil and think he’s Jesus as long as he has that “R” by his name.
Brennan deserved better, and the district deserved better. Some people need to pay more attention before they actually cast a ballot.
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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.