Democrats Sweep City Elections

Democrats Sweep City Elections

Andrew Macdonald wins a surprise victory as vice mayor.

Election Day was a clean sweep for Democrats, who were presented with colorfully festooned symbolic brooms at the Democratic victory party. Two of the brooms had special white bows, one for Mayor Bill Euille — and one for incoming Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald.

In an upset victory for the candidate with the most votes — the threshold for vice mayor — Councilman Andrew Macdonald’s stunning vote tally was the shock of the evening. Macdonald is frequently out of step with other council members, and his victory at the polls indicates a shift in the mood of the city’s electorate.

“There’s an old school in this city, and I’ve challenged the old school,” Macdonald said as the final vote tallies were being posted on the city’s Web site. “When I was first elected three years ago, Kerry Donley and David Speck were running the city. There’s a concern now about things that they didn’t spend much time on.”

Macdonald’s surprise victory was the talk of the party, and everyone seemed to have a theory about how he bested Paul Smedberg and Rob Krupicka — the two leading candidates of the Democratic caucus. Macdonald’s support for preserving old buildings and his desire to increase requirements on potential developers attracted support. And although he did not support a 3 percent budget, he publicly said that a 3 percent budget outline should be available for public inspection.

“He was the apostate vote,” said Matthew Natale. “He challenged the rest of the City Council, and it seemed to help him at the polls.”

Former Del. Marian Van Landingham said that Macdonald owed his victory to Republican voters.

“He got some cross-ticket support, obviously. Most of the Democrats voted a straight ticket, so he must have gotten a good number of Republican votes,” Van Landingham said. “That may be a unity thing for the city.”

She also said that the low turnout may have contributed to Macdonald’s victory. Although the city’s registrar expected 17,880 voters, only 15,336 actually showed up to the polls. That’s about 20 percent of the city’s 77,740 registered voters and only 14 percent of the city’s 108,674 residents over the age of 18.

“If people are angry, they get out to the polls and vote,” Van Landingham said. “They weren’t angry.”

AT THE VICTORY PARTY, each winning candidate took the stage to thank volunteers and campaign workers. They apologized to their families for devoting so much time to the campaign trail and vowed to work for the best interest of Alexandria voters.

Del Pepper, who will relinquish her title as vice mayor as a result of the election, was upbeat despite losing her distinction as the city’s most popular City Council member. She came in second place, receiving 9,281 votes.

“I think the Republicans have to be green with envy,” Pepper said. “We are broader than one issue, and we deserved a clean sweep because we knew what we were doing.

Rob Krupicka, came in third place with 9,100 votes, thanked his campaign workers for relentlessly wearing the official campaign color.

“They wore orange all the time, even though orange looks terrible on most everyone,” Krupicka said.

Paul Smedberg, who came in fourth place with 8,693 votes, thanked his volunteers and campaign staff for working so hard during the election.

“I couldn’t have done it without you,” Smedberg said.

Timothy Lovain, the only new member to the City Council, thanked his family for being so supportive during the time-consuming campaign.

“The person who was really running my campaign was my wife Beth,” Lovain said. “Who turned out to be very good at this.”

Ludwig Gaines pulled up the rear, coming in sixth place with 8,010 votes.

“I’m just glad I beat Pat Troy and Van Fleet,” said Gaines, who received the fewest votes of any of the winning candidates — 2,210 more votes than Troy and 2,449 more votes than Van Fleet.

AT THE PARTY, Democratic luminaries mingled with campaign workers and family members. They chatted over drinks as the election results were displayed on a projection screen. Many of those present were disappointed by the 20 percent turnout of registered voters.

“It’s ballot fatigue,” said Harris Miller, who is running in the Democratic primary for the United States Senate. “People are busy, and it’s tough to get the attention of the voters when we have election after election.”

Miller said that he sees the city election results as a vindication of the Democratic Party’s leadership in the city.

“It’s very exciting to see an affirmation of the leadership of Bill Euille and the Democratic City Commission,” Miller said. “Euille is a true Virginia Democrat, and that’s how I’m running my campaign.”

For his part, Euille gave a hint at future campaigns.

“Some people have said that they would like to see me as mayor for life,” Euille said. “But I have other aspirations.”

Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) was also at the party, fresh from spending three days in jail for civil disobedience. Last week, Moran and four other members of Congress were arrested at the Sudanese embassy during a protest of genocide in Darfur. An endless stream of well-wishers thanked the congressman for his actions, turning their attention briefly from local politics to international affairs.

“You can’t declare genocide and then not do anything about it,” Moran said. “It’s immoral and we need to exercise our leverage.”