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Votes

Rust Wins 86th

Abusive driver fees weighed heavy in Rust-Donahue race.

Republican incumbent Tom Rust won the election in the 86th State Delegate District, beating challenger Jay Donahue winning 52.8 percent of the vote. Rust won 6,306 votes to Donahue’s 5,627 votes, according to unofficial results from the Virginia State Board of Elections. A little less than 12,000 people voted in the 86th district on Nov. 6, recording a voter turnout of 30.3 percent.

Both candidates claimed in their campaigns that they would fix the abusive driver fee system if elected to Richmond. Rust championed the original transportation bill that passed during the last General Assembly session that included the fees.

Rust said his proposal included all drivers in the abusive driver fee formula, but Governor Tim Kaine (D) took the non-Virginia drivers out of it. He voted for the bill with the amendments, he said, because he recognized that transportation funding legislation had to be passed.

Donahue said he would not have supported Rust’s bill, but that Kaine’s amendments made the bill acceptable. Donahue challenged that Rust did not do enough to protect Virginia drivers from abusive driver fees, which he said were unpopular with the voters in the 86th District.

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, both candidates hit the 16 polling places in the 86th district, seeking last minute votes in a heated race. "I am cautiously optimistic," said Rust on Tuesday afternoon. He said the voters did not stray from transportation and budgetary issues when talking with him on election day. As far as the race with Donahue is concerned, Rust said, "I am very disappointed in the extremely negative, distorted, campaign run by my opponent." Rust ran for a fourth term to the 86th district seat, following a 20-year stint as mayor of Herndon. He calculated that this was his 17th election, and said that he had never seen such nasty campaigning as he saw from Donahue’s campaign this year.

"I feel very good," said Donahue on Tuesday morning before casting his vote at Herndon Community Center. He said he had visited a number of polls by then, and that the turnout seemed to be solid. He said the race has taught him that person-to-person contact is "absolutely crucial" in campaigning. He said he knocked on many doors in the district and noticed that the voters had real respect for their leaders. "Even when they told me they would vote for my opponent, they were always polite, always gracious," said Donahue.