A crowd of over 50 gathered on the patio of Champion Brewing shortly after the primary election polls closed Tuesday. The skies were still blue, and results had yet to pour in for Virginia’s 57th District. The blue district, which represents Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County, had two women running in its Democratic primary.
“So how nervous are you?” a woman asked Sally Hudson, who it appeared early in the night would win.
“I’m excited,” Hudson said.
Speaking to Charlottesville Tomorrow, Hudson went on to discuss how she planned to uplift and support other Democratic candidates in regional and state elections ahead of November.
“This district is chock full of talented people and I’m excited to bring that to Richmond through all of us working together,” Hudson said. “So much of what we want to get done here in the 57 will stay on hold until we take back the House and Senate, so my top job is making sure we flip more seats so we can actually get to govern.”
Where Hudson’s election night celebrations offered a relaxed sense of accomplishment, other watch parties signaled a celebration of hard work amongst staff, or a sense of elation while cinching seats by narrow or wide margins.
The 57th District’s other candidate, Charlottesville City Councilor Kathy Galvin, lost with 32% of the vote. Hudson and Galvin pulled more than 6,000 votes collectively.
Cassie Ardern, a campaign staffer of Galvin’s, said the voter turnout was disappointing but it could speak to a political burnout in the state.
“I think that speaks more to Virginia’s actual burnout than any of the candidates, honestly,” Ardern said.
She considers a highlight of the campaign trail being the quality time spent with other campaign staff and candidates at the polls on Election Day.
“My favorite part of the day was by the end of it, [when] us [Galvin’s team], the Snook, the Pinkston and the Sena campaign were all exchanging stories and hanging out,” she said.
Ardern noted similarities in both Hudson and Galvin’s campaigns and hopes Hudson will be able to apply the policies to the people she represents.
“I really appreciate a lot of the things that Sally has proposed,” Ardern said. “I think she’s really, really educated.”
Concerning the City Council, it was Michael Payne, Lloyd Snook and Sena Magill who pulled the highest votes to secure their slot as the three Democratic candidates on the ballot in November’s general election. Their next step will be to face independent challengers Bellamy Brown, Paul Long and John Hall.
Payne’s election festivities took place near Hudson’s at Quality Pie. The room of supporters included Mayor Nikuyah Walker (who also dropped by Hudson’s event) and Don Gathers, a fellow community organizer and former City Council candidate.
“I feel like I’m in NASCAR,” Gathers said of the various Payne and Hudson buttons he wore much like a professional driver’s product endorsements.
Payne and Hudson shared a communications director, University of Virginia third-year student Jake Gold.
“The fact that we have Michael, who is 26, and Sally, who is 30, running and winning in Democratic primaries is good. It’s a welcome change, and it shows that politics are moving in that direction,” Gold said. “People are starting to listen to young people who have a stake in policies.”
Gold said he was attracted to working for both candidates because of their stance on climate resilience and addressing climate change.
“To be perfectly frank, a lot of older candidates won’t have as much of a personal stake in that,” Gold said. “Younger people are going to live to see what happens if we don’t take action on climate change. It’s something young people consider looking to the future as they consider where they will have kids, where they’re moving. It’s time people like Michael and Sally get into those seats of power so the future can work for people who will live it.”
In another state-level election, Virginia’s 17th Senate District saw a Democratic and Republican primary.
Amy Laufer secured the Democratic nomination by a significant margin, receiving 78.6% of the nearly 7,000 votes cast in the district. Laufer says she, along with her campaign team, spent the days preceding her victory knocking on doors and making phone calls — an old-fashioned strategy, but one that got voters to the polls.
“I had at least eight people, after they voted, come to tell me that they were there to vote because one of our volunteers had just knocked on their door,” Laufer said. “Even when I was making my phone calls, I happened upon at least two people that forgot that it was Election Day, so my call compelled them to get to the precinct.”
With the primary behind her, Laufer will be running against incumbent Republican Sen. Bryce Reeves — a challenger she hopes to defeat by “listening and actually responding” to her constituents. First elected in 2011, Reeves beat out first-time candidate and fellow military veteran Rich Breeden in yesterday’s primary.
“We will remain laser-focused on an agenda that keeps taxes low, healthcare affordable and an education system that succeeds for our children, parents and teachers,” Reeves said of his goals moving forward before November.
Laufer and primary opponent Ben Hixon utilized canvassing across their sprawling district and hung out together at a poll. Laufer says they will be setting up a meeting in the future, as Hixon has experience supporting their party. Hixon says he will “work tirelessly” ahead of November to ensure that she is his next Senator.
In other Albemarle County races, current Chief Deputy Chan Bryant pulled over 63% of the vote to defeat former NFL player Patrick Estes, and she will go on to face Ronnie Roberts, an independent candidate with decades of law enforcement experience.
Despite the overall voter turnout being lower this year, Bryant was pleased people showed up to the polls.
“I am happy the voter turnout was as high as it was.,” Bryant said. “We were expecting a lower turnout, so I am glad that people actually came to the polls to vote.”
The race for Rivanna District seat on the Board of Supervisors was a tight one, as county native and grants analyst Jerrod Smith lost with 757 votes to Bea LaPisto Kirtley’s 896. Smith served as a Chicago Mayoral Fellow in 2014 and has studied public policy and politics at UVa. LaPisto Kirtley has lived in Albemarle for 12 years and has decades of experience in local government from when she lived in California.
LaPisto Kirtley is thankful for Rivanna’s support and is eager to get to work. That said, she is looking forward to a little post-primaries rest.
“Our community has a lot to offer and I was able to meet the nicest people while campaigning- so am I in need of relaxing a little? Yes,” she said. “Was all the door knocking worth it? Definitely!”
As the Board of Supervisors race was Smith’s first campaign, he said that he learned a lot that he will carry into the future, should he run for other offices. He also stressed the importance of being locally involved in communities, as he felt that helped him as a candidate. He said he also found inspiration in other races.
“I have been really inspired by Sally and Amy,” Smith said of the regional state-level candidates that won their primaries.
He acknowledged work to be done on the state level and plans to keep his eye on what happens in the House and Senate chambers in Richmond.
“I am definitely going to start paying attention and getting involved in those things moving forward just so that I can prepare, if I ever do decide to make the next push,” Smith said.
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