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Two years ago Tom Perriello earned a surprise victory in the Fifth District House race, defeating six-term Republican Virgil Goode by less than 800 votes.
Perriello’s reelection bid Tuesday wouldn’t be nearly as close; and it came with a much different result.
Republican challenger Robert Hurt earned a fairly easy victory over first-term incumbent Democrat Tom Perriello in the Fifth District House race. Though a final count wasn’t available by press time, Hurt had been declared the winner before 9 p.m., holding more than a 9,000 vote edge with 89 percent of the precincts reporting. He swept Bedford County and even won an edge among city voters. His victory appeared to be part of a Republican takeover of the House, as the Democrats were poised to lose 50 seats or more to the GOP.
Since taking office, Perriello has garnered national attention — first for his victory over Goode as part of the presidential election sweep of 2008, and then for his support of controversial issues such as President Obama’s health care legislation and the cap-and-trade energy bill.
In spite of a technical glitch at three county polling places, the vote went smoothly in Bedford County.
According to Barbara Gunter, four voting machines, one each at Bedford Christian Church and Forest Elementary School and two at Shady Grove Baptist Church, showed an error message when a voter tried to cast a ballot. In each case, the machine was sealed and the voter was given a provisional ballot. Gunter said that they had extra voting machines programmed and ready. These were taken to the polling places to replace each malfunctioning voting machine.
Gunter said that once polls closed, poll workers would power up each of the sealed machines and attempt to retrieve the votes. If this fails, a technician would come in the next day and retrieve the votes. She said that, each time a vote is cast, the machines store the vote in three separate memories. She was confident that no votes would be lost. She also noted that none of these polling stations were in District 3 where there was a school board race.
“Turnout has been extremely good,” Gunter said.
Gunter said that, county-wide, at least 46 percent of registered voters had voted. The Forest Elementary precinct, with 52.9 percent of registered voters casting ballots, and Goode Rescue, with 52 percent of voters turning out, were the polling places that had the highest turnouts.
Bedford County voters turned out heavily for Robert Hurt. The Republican pulled 66.16 percent of the vote in all precincts with 75 percent of votes cast at Goode Rescue Squad going to Hurt. Incumbent Congressman Tom Perriello only received 30.03 of Bedford County’s vote. Perriello’s best performance was at Body Camp Elementary School where 41.07 of the ballots cast went to him. His worst performance was at Goode Rescue Squad where only 20.2 percent of voters preferred him.
Independent candidate Jeffrey A. Clark drew his highest percentage, 5.33 percent, at Huddleston Elementary school. Overall, 3.76 of Bedford County’s voters opted for Clark.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who represents the 6th Congressional District, cruised to an easy victory. Goodlatte faced no major party opponent. His reelection bid was contested by Jeffrey W. Vanke, an independent, and Stuart M. Bain, a Libertarian. Vanke and Bain’s totals combined accounted for only 22 percent of the vote. Goodlatte’s victory was even more lopsided in Bedford County, with 84.88 percent of local voters opting to return him to Washington.
District 3, in Bedford County also saw a school board race. Voters elected Brad Whorley, giving him about 54 percent of the votes. Cheryl Toler, who had been appointed by the school board to fill David Black’s unexpired term, received 46 percent. That count was with five of six precincts reporting in. Only the absentee ballots had not yet been counted.
Toler works as a human resources manager for Mail America Communications in Forest. She was appointed by the school board for the interim term from a list of five candidates, including Whorley, who had also applied for the seat.
Whorley, who said a number of county residents urged him to run for the school board seat, is a long-time beef and dairy farmer in the county and now runs a trucking company. His father served as a county supervisor in the mid-’70s and his mother is a retired teacher with the county.
City of Bedford Registrar Randi Herrick’s take on Tuesday’s vote: “Busy, busy,” she said just prior to the closing of the polls Tuesday. “We’ll have a good turnout.”
Herrick said poll workers reported that voters turning out to cast their ballots “had been very pleasant and no one has complained about having to stand in line.”
Though three Constitutional Amendments were on the ballot, those didn’t seem to be backing up the lines too much. “Most people came to the polls knowing how they were going to vote,” Herrick stated.
Hurt carried the city, but by a much closer margin than his showing in the county. With all precincts reporting, as of 8:15 p.m., Hurt had 1,034 votes (53.77 percent) compared to Perriello’s 819 votes (42.58 percent). Independent candidate Jeffrey A. Clark had 69 votes (3.58 percent). There was one write-in vote.
Voter turnout in the city was right at 50 percent with 1,923 of 3,849 total voters casting ballots.
Three city council seats were up for election with all three incumbents running unchallenged. Mary Lazenby Flood received 1,209 votes; C. G. Stanley, Jr. received 1,226 votes; and James A. Vest received 1,175 votes.