Loudoun GOP Ready to Rumble

Loudoun GOP Ready to Rumble

Party members report increase in participation, voter registration.

The Democrats aren't the only ones feeling confident about the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

The Loudoun County Republican Party alone has registered somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500 new voters since last summer, according to Charlie McKinney, who ran the voter registration drive. Overall, the county has reported 35,899 more registered voters since the 2000 election.

"We've got Republicans coming out of the woodwork that we never had before," McKinney said. In 2000, he added, it was sometimes tough to motivate volunteers to get up and knock on doors on Saturdays.

"It's not been hard this year at all," he said.

Even people not comfortable with working within the Republican party itself have come forward, McKinney said.

"More people that are not joiners, not people that necessarily want to be active in the party — they're good Republicans nonetheless," he said. "Now they're in a situation where they feel they need to come out and do their part."

McKinney, who headed the Bush/Cheney campaign in Loudoun in 2000, will be one of approximately 1,500 Republican volunteers stumping for Bush and U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) on Tuesday. He'll be passing out literature and encouraging people to vote in Ashburn's Russell Branch precinct, one of Loudoun's 52 precincts — 23 of them newly created since 2000.

"IT'S GOING to be very hectic," said Morgan Wright, the 72 Hour Task Force leader for the Loudoun Republicans. His job is to coordinate last-minute efforts across all 52 precincts. As McKinney put it, "Morgan's got his hands full."

Wright is confident on a couple of levels, however: first, he believes he has the number of volunteers to get the job done, and second, he believes that Loudoun's Republican population has not been dwarfed by the thousands of new residents moving in every year.

According to Wright's data, while the number of voters in Loudoun has increased, the percent actually voting has decreased in the last decade. In the presidential election of 1992, 85 percent of Loudouners went to the polls; 79 percent in 1996; and 72 percent in 2000.

But for Republicans, voter turnout shows something else.

"When I look at the number of people who have voted Republican, that has increased across the board," Wright said. "Loudoun County is becoming increasing Republican."

The question of Loudoun's changing political leanings will be answered on Tuesday.

"I'm looking forward to it," McKinney said. "It's high time to get this election over with."

<1b>— Suzannah Evans