- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2009

UPDATED:

Northern Virginia Republicans nominated former at-large school board member Steve Hunt as their pick to replace Attorney General-elect Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II for the state senate.

Mr. Hunt, 51, a retired naval officer who currently works as an analyst for defense contractor SAIC, received the majority of votes (955) from the 1,903 people who cast ballots Tuesday night in the “firehouse primary.”

Republican Gov.-elect Robert F. McDonnell said early Wednesday that “with the nomination of Steve Hunt, voters in the 37th District have the opportunity to continue to be represented by an individual of principle and integrity, who shares our commitment to creating the jobs we need, keeping taxes low, getting traffic moving again and improving our public education system.”

Three conservative candidates had campaigned for the Republican nomination in a district that voted two times for Mr. Cuccinelli and came out solidly for Republicans last month.

But Mr. Cuccinelli was the last Republican state senator representing the voter-rich D.C. suburbs, which have been trending Democratic in recent years.

Voters braved cold weather and a line that snaked outside of Centreville High School. The “firehouse primary,” was scheduled to last from 6 to 10 p.m. A firehouse primary is an electoral nominating process where voters cast their ballots at one central location.

At one point, lines of cars stretched over a mile from the high school. When the voters’ line was closed at 10 p.m., about 350 people still stood outside. They were allowed to vote.

Bob Trimble and his wife, Kelly, of Centreville, said they waited for more than an hour in the cold to vote.

“This is awful, to be honest with you,” Mr. Trimble said. “I hope they don’t do this in January when there’s 3 feet of snow.”

Charles Proctor, assistant chief elections officer, said: “I thought we were just pleasantly busy, but I saw we had a lot of people lined up outside.”

The candidates Mr. Hunt defeated were: Marianne Horinko, 48, who served as the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush; and Will Nance, 41, the executive director of a retirement community who worked on the campaign of President George H.W. Bush and then took a government job in the Treasury Department. Ms. Horinko won 479 votes, and Mr. Nance won 469 votes.

Mr. Trimble attributed the high turnout to people being upset with the way the government is being run; he said the real impetus is the economy.

Would-be voters were required to produce identification and sign a pledge that they intend to support the Republican nominee going forward.

The winner is expected to face the Democrat’s pick, Delegate David Marsden.

Candidates must register to run by Dec. 10.

Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Party, said Tuesday night that “judging from the turnout, maybe Dave Marsden should save his rent money.”

Democrats hold 21 seats in the state Senate, while Republicans hold 19.

Gov. Tim Kaine set Tuesday, Jan. 12, the day before the General Assembly convenes, as the election date to fill the 37th District seat and also the 8th District Senate seat, being vacated by Kenneth W. Stolle, who was elected sheriff of Virginia Beach.

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