Garnering more than 66 percent of the vote, challenger Chris Craddock beat incumbent Gary Reese, Tuesday, in the Republican primary for the 67th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
It was a decisive victory, with Craddock, a 26-year-old youth minister from Chantilly's Foxfield community, receiving 2,611 votes to attorney Reese's 1,336.
"I FEEL GREAT," said Craddock, celebrating after the election at the home of his parents, Steve and Tricia, in Herndon. "It's great to know that my suspicions were confirmed that people in Northern Virginia want to see their taxes low and more of their money coming back to them [from Richmond]."
A moderate Republican, Reese, 60, of Oak Hill, was one of 17 delegates who broke away from the rest of the Republicans to initially back Gov. Warner's last budget, although he did not vote for the budget that was later approved.
But the more conservative Craddock successfully used it against Reese in his campaign. And in the end, he carried every precinct except Navy — and only lost that one by six votes. He'll now face Democratic contender Chuck Caputo of Oak Hill and Libertarian Party candidate Chuck Eby of Fair Lakes in November's election.
Craddock said a combination of factors were responsible for his win. "We had a great, grassroots effort, and the people aligned themselves more with where I stand than with where Reese stands," he said. "All my campaign workers were amazing, but I especially want to thank my wife for her 100-percent partnership in this whole thing."
Craddock is director of student ministries at King's Chapel, which meets at Willow Springs Elementary. He and his wife Katherine have a daughter Katie, 14 months.
MEANWHILE, the mood was also happy at Reese's home Tuesday night, despite his loss after serving four years in the General Assembly. "We're celebrating," he said. "My family has sacrificed a great deal over 14 years — [10 on the Fairfax County School Board and four in the House] — and we're celebrating no longer having the burden and no longer having to fight these extremists."
Reese said they're "so extreme and such bitter people that they tend to make everyone around them bitter and filled with hatred, and I don't need that in my life, anymore. They set out to demonize me on the tax and abortion issues, and they succeeded. Now, we'll see what happens as a result."
Carol, Reese's wife of 34 years, said she's sorry he lost, but it's been a long 14 years of public service. "We're disappointed," she said. "But I'm ready to be out of it and to have my husband back." Actually, said Gary, "Carol and I had reached an agreement that this would be my last race, anyway. We'd had enough of these people and the horrible things they said about me in the campaign literature."
Regarding his many accomplishments as the 67th District representative, Reese said he's proudest of the adoption of the "Taxpayers' Budget Bill of Rights," requiring the state budget to be written in a transparent and easily understandable manner, and the transportation initiatives he helped set in place. They involved a coalition of delegates who'd agreed to vote in favor of each other's transportation needs — including Northern Virginia's.
Now, said Reese, he's looking forward to "new challenges and adventures with new people" as one of a group of investors and airline people involved in creating a new, long-distance, passenger airline serving the East and West coasts, Europe and Moscow.
HE'S ALSO a proud grandfather to 8-month-old granddaughter Morgan, courtesy of son Alan, and is happily anticipating his daughter Shelley's wedding in August. So, said Reese, "If you don't hear a bit of sadness in my voice, there's good reason."
After all the votes were in Tuesday, Craddock thanked "the best friends in the world" for their help in his victorious campaign. Now, he said, he's going to "take a short nap and start working hard again."