By Candace Sipos
WINCHESTER — Campaign signs mostly sporting red and blue hues were lined down the entrance to theShenandoah University Health Professions Building on Friday evening.
Almost 40 candidates running for local and state elections, along with many concerned citizens, drove through that entryway to reach the 12th annual HobNob in the Valley hosted by the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber.
Most of the 47 candidates running in 32 races in the state, city of Winchester, Frederick and Clarke counties showed up to campaign. Those in the eight contested races were also able to judge their chances among this crowd.
Of more than 350 people who showed up to the sold-out event, 212 of them cast a vote in the straw poll.
The straw poll winners of the two state contested races were Sen. Jill Vogel for the 27th District state Senate seat and Randy Minchew for the 10th District House of Delegates seat, both Republicans.
The two main speakers were actually representing the 2012 U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by retiring Sen. Jim Webb. Former Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine’s speech was followed by that of Susan Allen, wife ofGeorge Allen, former Republican senator and governor. Kaine and George Allen are seeking their respective party’s nominations for the position.
“I love coming to the HobNob,” Kaine said. “It exemplifies what’s best about us as a nation at a time when we need events like this.”
He said that Virginians need to work together to boost the state economy and perhaps the nation’s economic situation in turn.
“America’s got big challenges these days,” Kaine said. “I think Virginia has answers. I’m not pessimistic about our country. … The things that we’re doing in Virginia could be great lessons to take to Washington.”
Allen also expressed her concerns about the state’s economy.
“We look at our children and we wonder what kind of a future there is for America,” Mrs. Allen said. “I’m not sure that our young people are seeing the America that we saw growing up.”
Earlier, Mrs. Allen gave her opinion to the media ofObama’s Thursday night speech.
“I watched the whole thing,” she said. “I thought the president sounded almost angry. … I’m not sure that anything’s going to happen from it. I question whether it was just
a speech for political purposes.”
As for the candidates running for this year’s November election, they all report campaigning hard.
Minchew brought along his former opponent for the Republican ticket, John Whitbeck Jr.
“Republicans generally all pull together,” he said, noting that another former opponent, Cara Townsend, is also campaigning with him. “I feel good but I’m taking this race very seriously.”
Minchew’s opponent, Democrat Dave Butler, said he’s disappointed in the push polls that the Republicans sent out Thursday night.
“This negative campaigning has apparently started already,” Butler said. “They misrepresented some things that I said, especially on taxes.”
Butler’s campaign manager, Josh Goodman, said Butler was being “judicious.”
“From my perspective, when I heard what they said, it’s a flat-out lie,” Goodman said.
The other candidates who won the majority of straw poll votes in contested races were Bob Williamson for Frederick County sheriff, Ellen Murphy for Frederick County commissioner of the revenue, Gary Lofton for Frederick County’s Back Creek Board of Supervisors seat, Stuart Wolk for Frederick County’s School Board at-large seat, Bev McKay for Clarke County’s White Post Board of Supervisors seat and Jennifer Welliver for Clarke County’s Berryville School Board seat.