- The Washington Times - Friday, November 5, 2004

President Bush handily captured Virginia’s electoral votes Tuesday, despite some surprises such as the conservative city of Danville voting Democratic.

Voters in the Southside city cast 49.4 percent of their votes for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry. Though Mr. Kerry won Danville by just 37 votes, the victory marked the first time a Democrat won there since at least 1992.

Kenneth D. Hall, chairman of the Danville Republicans, said the city — known as the City of Churches — is still conservative, but the textile industry there has been hit hard in recent years.

“A lot of the voting here did come out of their pocketbooks,” he said.

Mr. Hall said besides the city’s high unemployment rate, Democrats also had a strong get-out-the-vote effort.

Delegate Robert Hurt, Pittsylvania Republican, agreed that Democrats worked hard and said Republicans must now work even harder.

“Folks in Danville reject the Hollywood values that became associated with John Kerry, so this comes somewhat of a surprise,” he said.

Mr. Bush’s 54 percent to 45 percent victory Tuesday topped his 8-percentage-point win over Vice President Al Gore in 2000. Virginia has not elected a Democrat for president since 1964.

Albemarle County, which voted 50.5 percent for Mr. Kerry, was another surprise — voting Democratic for the first time in the past three elections.

“There is a slow slide to the left here in Albemarle County,” said Keith C. Drake, chairman of the local Republican Party.

Mr. Drake attributes the Democratic increase to the growing University of Virginia population, which tends to attract liberal students. The city of Charlottesville — the county seat and home to the university — voted 72 percent for Mr. Kerry and always has gone for Democrats.

He also said many people from New York and New Jersey retire in the area because it is more affordable.

“That’s been really changing the demographics,” Mr. Drake said.

The results in Fairfax City were also unexpected. Voters had elected a Republican for the past 40 years, but this year Mr. Kerry won 51.2 percent of the vote.

Dan Drummond, chairman of the Fairfax City Democratic Committee, attributed the change to the influx of young families and a strong, grass-roots effort by the local Democratic Party.

“It’s still a fairly conservative town,” he said. “They are good Virginia Democrats.”

Mr. Drummond said Democrats also have been doing well in Fairfax at the state level.

“We’re starting to move toward more Democrats being elected and supported in the city,” he said.

Other sections of the state boast huge numbers of Democrats.

Fairfax County voted 52.9 percent for Mr. Kerry. Buchanan County near the border of West Virginia voted 53.7 percent for Mr. Kerry. Norfolk voted 61.7 percent for Mr. Kerry, which kept in line with past trends, but some of the margins for Mr. Kerry were higher than in previous elections.

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