Dems upbeat in Rio precinct, Deeds counts on “surge voters”

Near the 2 o’clock hour, the mood was upbeat at Woodbrook Elementary School, where party signs seems evenly divided and where gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds pulled up with an entourage of campaign workers. Smiling, and seeming bleary after nonstop get-out-the-vote efforts all weekend, the presumed underdog expressed confidence that “if we get the right turnout,” he’ll emerge victorious over Bob McDonnell when the polls close tonight.

What’s the right turnout?

“Fifty-one percent Deeds voters,” he said, with a tired chuckle. “Obama changed everything,” he added, expressing confidence in “320,000 surge voters.” He said that turnout was high in Arlington and Alexandria, and invited anyone who’s interested to join his campaign tonight at Richmond’s Westin Hotel.

 As he pulled away, Susan Payne, a longtime active member of the Democratic Party and an influential local fundraiser (her husband once occupied the Congressional seat now held by Tom Perriello), said, “The Democrats are getting it right on the last day.”

Cynthia Neff, running for delegate in the 58th District and hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Rob Bell, remarked on the “tremendous reception” she’s been getting at the polling places, “better than I would have expected from the polls.” Her natural constituency, she said, in answer to a reporter’s question, is “lots of teachers, lots of nurses,” and she’s been seeing them come out to vote. Still, she acknowledged that it’s daunting to run against a popular four-term incumbent: “At least twice a week I go, what am I doing?”

Right about that time, Albemarle Supervisor David Slutzky, who represents the Rio District where Woodbrook is located, arrived. “The TV is coming,” he informed Neff. Though Deeds was by then on his way to the next stop, the crew stayed on to interview voters and local candidates. Slutzky initially sidestepped C-VILLE’s question about the effect the top of the ticket might have on local Democrats, such as him. Pressed, he allowed as to how “our race is probably more independent of the upticket than was the case four years ago. Tim Kaine’s victory helped me four years ago, a relative unknown running against an unknown.” Still, Slutzky lamented the sound-bite strategy that many voters take into the booth, basing their decisions on “miniscule relevant information.” He promised that he’d get a voter-participation website up and running if he wins this time, though he didn’t follow through on that four years ago, he admitted.


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