Democrats sweep local elections

Democrats sweep local elections
At left, Clark Mercer, Democratic Committee chairman, Mayor Bill Euille and Del. Charniele Herring (D-46), right, congratulate Clerk of the Alexandria Circuit Court Ed Semonian, center, during a victory party for local Democrats at Los Tios in Del Ray on Tuesday night. (Photo: Derrick Perkins)

After a bitter primary struggle for the Democratic Party nomination, former Del. Adam Ebbin (D-49) cruised to victory against GOP challenger Tim McGhee for the state Senate District 30 seat Tuesday.

Ebbin, who enjoys deep ties at home and in Richmond, where he served in the House of Delegates for the past six years, will replace retired Sen. Patsy Ticer as the city’s primary representative in the state Senate.

Having represented much of Alexandria — as well as portions of Fairfax and Arlington counties — since 1996, Ticer announced her retirement in February.

Before formally getting the party’s nod, Ebbin had to edge out City Councilman Rob Krupicka and Arlington School Board member Libby Garvey in a tough primary fight that ended in August. Though a prelude to the general election, the primary race overshadowed Ebbin’s later campaign against McGhee.

Adam Ebbin

McGhee, a newcomer to politics from Falls Church and unknown quantity in Alexandria, entered his paperwork to run as the GOP contender shortly before the filing deadline. He garnered 11,944 votes to Ebbin’s 21,701 in Tuesday’s elections.

“We’re starting to watch Virginia wake up from its history … and we need to do that sooner rather than later,” said Ebbin, who also served as the Democratic caucus’ senior whip during his time in the House.

Locally, Alexandria Circuit Court Clerk Edward Semonian enjoyed a hard fought victory against GOP challenger Chris Marston for the nonpartisan — and largely administrative — citywide post.

The Semonian-Marston showdown flared up in the months since the longtime GOP activist announced he would challenge the incumbent clerk, a former banker and lawyer who had not faced a competitor since first winning the seat in 1979.

The fiery rhetoric did not ebb even after it was clear Semonian, with 12,948 votes, would emerge triumphant.

“We’re fighting for the environment, for education, for a woman’s right to choose … When we work so hard here in Alexandria for Democrats like [Semonian], we’re fighting for [Virginia],” Del. David Englin  (D-45) told a crowd of Semonian supporters in Del Ray.

Semonian was more pragmatic about his victory. He wants to continue pushing the clerk’s office forward with technology during his next eight-year term, but any progress would be dependent on the city’s budget allocation, Semonian said.

“The city has budget problems again,” he said. “I have a number of projects I’d like to do, but it depends on money … We just want to continue offering very good service at the courthouse.”

Ebbin’s victory came as Democrats cemented their hold in the city. While most residents cast ballots for the District 30 race, six precincts in the southwest of the city were caught up in the hotly contested fight for incumbent Democrat George Barker’s state Senate District 39 seat.

While state Tea Party activists had targeted Barker as a potentially vulnerable incumbent, the freshman state senator edged out Republican Miller Baker with 21,093 votes. By contrast, Baker earned 18,679 ballots.

The city’s third state senator, Dick Saslaw, also declared victory Tuesday night after rolling over Republican Robert Sarvis and Independent Green candidate Katherine Ann Pettigrew.

The city’s two Democratic delegates, Englin and Charniele Herring, were on the ballot but ran unopposed.

While Democrats enjoyed success in Alexandria, they suffered tough losses statewide. Republicans, with control of the House and the Governor’s Mansion, needed to pick up two state Senate seats to consolidate one-party governance in Richmond.

In District 20, Democrat Roscoe Reynolds fell narrowly to Republican rival Bill Stanley, and in District 17, the GOP’s Bryce Reeves looks to unseat incumbent Edd Houck, though the margin is narrow enough — just 86 votes separate the two men — a recount likely is in the cards.

With a GOP pickup of two seats, the two parties will each have 20 votes in the upper house, meaning Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) would serve as tiebreaker.