Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 23, 2013

The nation will be closely watching how Virginia votes on Nov. 5

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — While it may seem hard to believe, there is a big election in the Commonwealth of Virginia that is now only seven days away. And all eyes will be on the closely watched gubernatorial  contest between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

Some political pundits believe the race could determine the level of anger among voters at the moment due to all of the unnecessary drama that lawmakers in Washington made us endure with the prolonged government shutdown and fiscal cliff crisis. But will voters in Virginia really blame Cuccinelli or McAuliffe for the bad behavior of lawmakers in Washington? It will be interesting to see what — if any — impact voter anger will have on the Nov. 5 contest. Some also fear voter apathy, as some polls are suggesting that voters aren’t necessarily happy with either Cuccinelli or McAuliffe. The negative tone of the gubernatorial race — and all of the unnecessary mudslinging between the two camps — also could be a turnoff to some voters.

Most statewide polls are suggesting a lead for McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee who also chaired Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid. But McAuliffe has been largely absent from the campaign trail in Southwest Virginia, and he didn’t respond to several requests by this newspaper to participate in an editorial board session interview. But we did learn Tuesday that McAuliffe is scheduled to appear Monday in Virginia Tech along with former President Bill Clinton for a “Putting Jobs First” campaign rally. The event in Blacksburg actually puts McAuliffe and Clinton closer to Bluefield than the coalfield counties of Tazewell, Russell, Buchanan and Dickenson. Montgomery County is, of course, more of a high-tech corridor than a coalfield county.

But I guess Virginia Tech is at least a start. As there are still certainly lots of Democrats in the region who would like to have a chance to meet the candidate they may be planning to vote for. As it stands now, time is running out for the general public to meet and learn more about the gubernatorial candidates as absentee voting is already well underway.

In order to cast an absentee ballot, residents must be registered to vote in Virginia and must meet one of several eligibility requirements listed on the Virginia absentee ballot. For example, if a voter is a college student who attends classes out of the area, he or she may vote absentee. The same goes for those who may be out of town on business or vacation on Election Day. If a voter has a disability or illness that would keep them from waiting in long lines at the polls on Nov. 5, they also may cast an absentee ballot. The same goes for local residents who are serving in the military.

Area voter registration offices will be open this Saturday, and again on Saturday, Nov. 2, to accommodate absentee voters. And it is important to remember that you will be casting a vote in several races and not just the gubernatorial contest.

In fact, a number of local county and state races will be decided Nov. 5. On the state level, voters will decide between two candidates in Virginia’s 3rd Delegate District contest. Incumbent Delegate James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell, is being challenged in his re-election bid by Democrat James M. O’Quinn of the Deskins community of Buchanan County.

And several county races will be decided by voters in Tazewell County, including three seats on the county Board of Supervisors, and two county school board seats.

In the Southern District, incumbent supervisor and Democrat Mike Hymes is being challenged by Republican Jerry R. Blackburn. In the Southern District school board contest, incumbent board member Randy Conn is being challenged by former sheriff H.S. Caudill.

In the Western District, incumbent supervisor and Republican John Absher is running unopposed for re-election. In the Western District school board contest, incumbent Steve Davis is being challenged by N. Chris Moir.

In the special Northern District Board of Supervisors contest scheduled to fill the unexpired term of former supervisor Tom Brewster, Democrat Tom Childress is being challenged by Republican G. “John R.” Roberts Jr.

A special election also will be held Nov. 5 to fill the unexpired Richlands Town Council term of Shea Cook, who resigned earlier this year. Mary Ann Strong is running unopposed for the  seat.

So there you have it. A full ballot to consider come Nov. 5. If you live in Virginia, please cast a ballot. It doesn’t matter if you vote early or wait until Nov. 5, as long as you vote. And remember that political pundits across the nation will be watching this one closely.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at Follow him @BDTOwens.