Lucas Falls Just Short in Mayoral Challenge

by Valerie Garner

Everyone felt it was going to be a close race as supporters of Mark Lucas gathered at The Quarter on Salem Avenue on Tuesday after the polls closed..

The mood was jubilant and supporters were feeling good about the turnout in South Roanoke and the Lee-High precincts. As the numbers came dribbling in that had Bowers leading, Campaign Manager Chris Walters and volunteer Adam Boitnott scoured the returns on their iPad and iPhones confident that the South Roanoke precincts would overtake Bowers.

They were optimistic that these precincts would heavily support Lucas and make up the deficit. But it wasn’t to be … by 8:00 p.m. the writing was on the wall. Lucas missed the mark by just 349 votes.

For Lucas – a Republican – it was an uphill battle. What kept him from reaching the mark was anyone’s guess. Perhaps if he hadn’t taken off a week to go to Costa Rica or had worked harder in precincts outside his home turf. Roanoke voters are notoriously fickle.

Their reasons for voting for one person or another ran the gambit. There was the “anybody but Bowers” voter – the staunch Republican vote and the “let’s take a chance on someone else” voter.

Bowers had strong financial support from Republican Peter Via that may have put him over the top. Or it could have been the ground game that was full of volunteers including “Organizing For America” headed by activist Freeda Cathcart.

Voter turnout seemed to give Bowers just enough support. The heavily Democratic Peters Creek precinct in Northwest pulled in 200 voters in the last hour and a half.

Optimistic faces soon turned somber as Chris Walter announced a loss and Lucas spoke to his supporters. Congressman Bob Goodlatte was there to lend his support.

Lucas was disappointed and said that it was a very tough race. When asked where he would go from here he said, “back to work.” He still wants to be involved in job creation and said he had met a lot of great people during his campaign.

He said he didn’t know if he would seek office again in the future.