by WorldTribune Staff, May 21, 2020
Republicans swept to victory in Staunton, Virginia’s city council election on Tuesday as voters tossed out three Democratic incumbents in a usually reliable Democratic stronghold in the state’s Shenandoah Valley.
Republican candidates Mark Robertson, Amy Darby, and Steve Claffey all joined incumbent Andrea Oakes in a four-seat GOP sweep, WHSV reported. The three incoming council members replaced Democratic incumbents Erik Curren, Ophie Kier, and James Harrington.
Nearby Waynesboro also put two conservatives, Lana Williams and Bruce Allen, on their city council to “give conservatives a working majority,” Augusta Free Press reporter Chris Graham noted.
“Bottom line is that the strategies worked, flipping both from D to R, but the change in Staunton is stunning almost beyond words,” Graham opined. “A city that voted for Barack Obama, twice, voted for Hillary Clinton, voted for Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam, even gave a solid majority to Jennifer Lewis in her 2018 congressional run against Ben Cline, is now controlled by Republicans.”
All of the Democratic incumbents almost doubled their vote totals from 2016, yet still lost in a massive voter turnout amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
“Democrats got their voters out better than they have in a May cycle in years,” Graham wrote. “Republicans got turnout more akin to, not quite a presidential year, but approaching gubernatorial.”
Graham cited gun control legislation in the state as well as COVID-19 lockdowns as key turnout drivers for Republicans in Staunton.
Overall voter turnout was 4,320, the Augusta Free Press reported, with a total of 17,279 votes cast in the election for the four city council seats.
“For comparison to previous cycles, the 2018 local election had 7,068 votes cast for three seats, which would work out to 2,356 individual voters turning out,” wrote Graham. “Back in 2016, the most recent, until Tuesday, four-seat election, the total cast was 6,325, or 1,581 individual voters.”