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Votes

On the Campaign Trail

Candidate's Wallet Flies at Forum

At a Sunday forum, Republican candidate for the House of Delegates Chris Gregerson made a dramatic display of his feelings about Big Government. In response to a question from the audience about what he would do as a delegate to help renters, Gregerson told audience members that he didn't think government should be helping people live where they can't afford to live.

"He disagrees with tax dollars being used to support subsidies for people who can't afford to live in the area," said Craig Romm, the campaign's communications director. "He's not opposed to affordable housing, he's opposed to using taxpayers' dollars to help renters who couldn't otherwise live here."

Gregerson, a passionate speaker, wanted to add a dramatic flair to his point.

"To illustrate his point, he took his wallet out and tossed it toward the audience," Romm said. "This is an area he feels strongly about, and he opposes government reaching into our pockets."

The projectile wallet landed at the feet of a daughter of Dana Lawhorne, who is running as the Democratic candidate for sheriff. Lawhorne said that his daughter was a bit shaken, but she understands that Gregerson was just trying to make a point.

"Boy, he flung that thing with a vengeance," Lawhorne said. "My daughter was, like, 'whatever.'"

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The $5,000 Basketball Game

Although the Urban League invited all statewide candidates to its forum at the Lyceum last week, only one candidate — Leslie Bryne, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor — appeared at the event to court votes.

Members of the Urban League were disappointed with the lack of candidates at the forum, and all of the surrogates were asked where their candidates were. One surrogate who received a particular tongue-lashing was Elroy Sailor, who was appointed to represent Republican gubernatorial Jerry Kilgore.

"We, as African Americans, have marginalized our votes," he said, explaining why he supported Kilgore's campaign for governor. "The Democratic Party doesn't feel like they have to fight for our votes."

Audience members were critical of Sailor, and asked him several questions about how much time he had spent with the candidate. One member of the audience asked, "Other than the fact that you are black, why were you selected to speak for Jerry Kilgore?"

"If I gave $5,000 or $10,000, I could sit down with the candidate," Sailor said, responding to the question. "I don't hang out with him. He's not my home boy. We don't go play basketball."

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What's Behind Door Number One?

In the last few weeks before the Nov. 8 election, candidates are working overtime to knock on doors and meet voters. They are raising money and purchasing advertising, appearing at forums and trying to attract the swing vote. The grassroots approach to accomplishing this involves going door-to-door, meeting residents and talking about their concerns.

Since announcing his candidacy for the Democratic primary for delegate, David Englin says that he's knocked on more than 11,000 doors and his volunteers have knocked on more than 35,000 doors. In the heat of June, he was spending 10 to 12 hours a day out walking the precincts.

"Sometimes it's brutal, but that's what it takes," Englin said. "I've been mauled by more dogs than I care to remember, and I've had two people answer the door in their underwear."

Englin's volunteers have also had many adventures going door-to-door. One volunteer became starstruck when she knocked on the door of Dave Grohl, lead singer for the band Foo Fighters.

"She came back and she was so excited to have met Dave Grohl," Englin said. "I didn't know who he was, but she was excited about it."

Other volunteers have had more questionable experiences on the campaign trail. Melissa Mattingly, Englin's campaign manager, said one volunteer experienced a voter who had some unusual theories about American government.

"Our volunteers recently got someone who was convinced that the country is run by a shadow government," she said. "So that was kind of weird."

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The Unopposed Commonwealth Attorney

Randy Sengel, Alexandria's commonwealth attorney, is running unopposed this year. According to an Oct. 17 filing with the Virginia Board of Elections, the Sengel campaign has a balance of $285.73.

"It's the campaign without a trail," Sengel said.

The candidate says that he has three or four yard signs left over from a 1997 Democratic primary. He hasn't decided where to put them yet, but he plans to put them out at voting precincts on Election Day. One sign will definitely be installed at his home precinct — Macarthur Elementary School — but he's not sure where to put the others.

"I'll have to consult with my campaign committee first."