Republicans Roll in State: Winston Wins Sheriff Race

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Mike Winston (left) celebrates his victory with top deputy sheriff Charlie Poff.

Mike Winston (left) celebrates his victory with top deputy sheriff Charlie Poff.

Luckily from Mike Winston’s viewpoint the newly reelected sheriff from Roanoke County wasn’t overtaken by the anti-Democrat sentiment that sweept southwest Virginia and the country. Winston, running on the Democrat ticket, almost doubled the vote total of independent Mike Stovall, 18,000 to 10,000, to hold on to the seat he inherited when Gerald Holt retired as Roanoke County sheriff seven months ago. (Holt is now a U.S. Marshall.)

Winston took a concession call from Stovall around 8:30 at the Colony House motel Tuesday night, where Democrats had gathered to watch election results. “I had a lot of people helping me,” said Winston, who went around the room thanking supporters after Stovall conceded the election. “It was just a great team effort.” Winston said his office would continue to be “proactive – just like we have for the past seven months since I took office.”

Charlie Poff left his post as the director of the Western Virginia Regional Jail to become Winston’s top deputy sheriff after Holt retired and Winston moved up. He and his boss raised their hands in victory after Stovall conceded. Asked to join his office by Winston,” I thought about it for five minutes,” said Poff, adding that Winston was his firearms instructor many years ago. Poff was a retired Roanoke City deputy sheriff before Holt coaxed him out of retirement to take the jail post.

As for Winston’s win as a Democrat, Poff said the sheriff’s department “serves all the citizens, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. It’s time to vote for the man. They sent a clear message that they wanted to vote for a person with experience.” Poff said Winston, “has served the citizens well in Roanoke County for forty-plus years. That’s what this campaign [was] all about, experience.”

Regional Congressional Races: Elsewhere, Republican Morgan Griffith was introduced at the podium in Abingdon by Bill Wampler, the former Republican Congressman from the 9th district that now-deposed Democrat Rick Boucher defeated 28 years ago. Boucher lost his seat in Congress to Griffith after 28 years in Washington.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this night,” said Wampler. “Let’s get behind him now and make him the best Congressman this district has ever had.” A special election will be held prior to the beginning of the General Assembly session to fill the seat left vacant by the now former House majority leader in Richmond.

Griffith polled about 10,000 votes more than Boucher did in the 9th District race. The incumbent blamed the large amounts of money poured into the Griffith campaign as one major reason for his defeat. Boucher’s support of the cap and trade energy bill was portrayed as a threat to the coal industry, a position that did not go over well in parts of Boucher’s district.

Griffith told a reporter that voters on Tuesday “were sending a message to the Obama-Pelosi folks, that the agenda they want is not [the people’s]. Rick Boucher got a little too close to Obama and Pelosi.”

Republican Bob Goodlatte easily won reelection in the 9th Congressional District, dusting off minor challenges from Libertarian Stuart Bain and independent Jeff Vanke. The long time incumbent said the Republican tidal wave was a repudiation of the Barack Obama-Nancy Pelosi agenda in Washington. Goodlatte accepted his victory at the Holiday Inn-Tanglewood, shortly after the polls closed at 7 p.m.

In the 5th district that stretches from Bedford to Charlottesville, Republican State Senator Robert Hurt is now a Congressman after beating one term incumbent Democrat Tom Periello. “Judgment day is more important than election day,” Periello said his late father Dino told him. “It’s more important to do what’s right than what’s easy, and that’s what I tried to do.” Periello said he would work with Hurt on the transition process.

“People are yearning for change in this country, but it’s not the type of change that we got two years ago,” said Hurt as he accepted the victory. “They want jobs. That’s what this election is about. The private sector creates jobs in this country…not the government.” Expect to hear that theme from Hurt and other Republicans in Washington often over the next few years.