May Tops Oprison

May Tops Oprison

Del. Joe T. May (R-33) handily defeated his opponent, political newcomer Chris Oprison, in the Republican primary Tuesday.

May, who has represented western Loudoun and Clarke County since 1993, garnered 59.8 percent of the vote.

It was a contentious battle for the seat between May and Oprison, whose campaign originally centered on May's vote last year to approve the state budget and, likewise, a $1.4 billion tax increase.

But the focus of the campaigns shifted after May filed complaints with both the State Board of Elections and the Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney. May claimed the signatures Oprison gathered to be on the ballot were invalid. The complaints are still pending.

Both campaigns then sent out mailers aligning the other with "liberals" in an attempt to out-conservative each other.

The end result was a tense race, and only May's second to go negative since he first ran 12 years ago.

POLLING PLACES were quiet on Tuesday. Voter turnout was at just over 8 percent.

At Evergreen Mill Elementary School, election officers looked stranded in the school's nearly deserted gym. By 5 p.m., just over 100 people had voted there.

"You could come here at any time of the day and it would look like this," said election officer Tracey Albro, as a single voter cast a ballot.

Outside, Mike Henry sprinted across the parking lot to greet May.

"I'd cross the street to shake Del. May's hand, but I wouldn't cross the street to spit on the other guy," Henry, a Leesburg resident, said.

But Oprison had his supporters, too.

"I just want to get someone in who represents my view," said Leesburg resident Rose Rucker. "We need to shake up the status quo. There's a bit of an old boys' club."

MAY CITED long-time supporters and a long track record as the key to his success.

May was one of 17 Republican delegates who voted for the budget and tax increase last year. He has said his decision was to prevent a stalemate and the shutdown of the government.

"Obviously, the majority of voters felt that I did [the right thing]," May said.

"I'm very proud of the outcome," he added. "This wasn't a walk in the park."

May originally entered the race while simultaneously running for lieutenant governor. He withdrew from that race after pressure from fellow Republicans to keep his delegate seat.

Calls to Oprison were not returned Tuesday night.