Frederick scores upset in Culpeper prosecutor’s race
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
In what is surely the biggest upset in Culpeper politics since Billy Joe Arrington whipped incumbent Mason Green in the 1964 sheriff’s race, Megan Revis Frederick soundly defeated Paul Walther to become the county’s first female commonwealth attorney.
“The truth was the difference,” Frederick said Tuesday night after the votes were counted. “This was a victory for Michael Hash and every other man who has languished in prison [because of those now in that office].”
Frederick, who was outspent more than 2–1 during an extremely contentious campaign, received 10,075 votes while Walther, who had been part of the commonwealth attorney’s office since 1994, collected 9,204 votes.
The special election became necessary when Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Close, who was elected to a sixth term in November 2011, abruptly resigned on March 12 after a federal judge, citing prosecutorial misconduct, set aside Hash’s 2001 murder conviction two weeks earlier.
Walther was appointed to replace Close the following day.
While Walther had the full backing of the Culpeper Bar Association and some of the county’s most influential residents, the average voter decided that the commonwealth attorney’s office needed a housecleaning. Walther had helped prosecute Hash in the high-profile trial.
Frederick quit her job at the Virginia attorney general’s office last April to come back to her home county and run. She initially sought the Republican nomination, but lost that to Walther by a handful of votes.
She was not given much of a chance by many when she decided to run as an independent, but mounted a strong door-to-door campaign.
Frederick said last night she will not retain Walther, but indicated that assistant commonwealth attorney Dale Durrer and other members of the present staff could stay if they chose.
“They are a hardworking group,” she said.
“I’m ready to go,” said Frederick, who could be sworn in as early as today.
On being Culpeper’s first female commonwealth attorney, she said, “I’m proud of that. This was the Lord’s doing.”
In another upset, Republican Alexa Fritz defeated independent Sanford Reaves by 51 votes (765-714) in the special election to fill Tom Underwood’s vacated Salem District Board of Supervisors seat.