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P.W. voters flip House election

The 2nd District House of Delegates seat was one of the few that flipped from Republican to Democratic in Tuesday’s election.

Incumbent Republican Mark Dudenhefer of Stafford County lost the seat he held for one term in an election upset.

Democrat Michael Futrell of Woodbridge captured 8,183 votes—just 223 votes more than Dudenhefer.

A spokesman for Dudenhefer said on Wednesday he conceded the election.

“We focused on the issues and what was important to Stafford and Prince William. I have been honored to represent these fine people for two years, and appreciate all the support I received, not only these past few months campaigning, but also legislating in Richmond,” Dudenhefer said in a statement.

Dudenhefer, a retired Marine colonel who represented the Garrisonville area on the Stafford Board of Supervisors before winning the 2nd District seat in 2011, won 65 percent of Stafford County’s votes, but just 34 percent of the votes in Prince William County on Tuesday.

Roughly the same number of people voted in each county—a little more than 8,000 each.

But while Stafford is reliably Republican in most elections, Prince William has become a swing area in recent elections.

“This squeaker of a House of Delegates election may be one place we can point to where the Democratic victory statewide made a difference,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political science professor.

Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe took 52 percent of the vote in Prince William County.

Other factors came into play in Prince William, as well.

“In the 2nd House district, you are looking at an increasingly diverse population,” Farnsworth said. “That creates more opportunities for the Democrats.”

Last year, President Barack Obama won the 2nd District, 58 to 41 percent, but in 2009, Gov. Bob McDonnell won the district with 58 percent of the vote, Farnsworth said.

He pointed to the geographic voting trends.

The closer to D.C. a district or a county is, the more Democratic it tends to be.

Democrats win the cities and “inner ring” suburbs, such as Fairfax, Northern and Eastern Prince William.

But farther from Washington, it gets more Republican, Farnsworth said.

Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fauquier counties tend to be more Republican.

Prince William is on the border.

“The elections in Virginia are won and lost in the western precincts of Prince William and Loudoun counties,” Farnsworth said.

He noted that this is one of the areas of the state that is changing “at a very rapid rate.”

“The high percentage of the vote that Barack Obama won in District 2 created an environment where a Democratic candidate could get lucky,” he said.

Futrell, 31, runs a nonprofit, Make the Future. He’s been a member of the Prince William County Democratic Party Steering Committee since 2011, and has served as vice chairman of the Prince William County Election Task Force Commission and chairman of the Prince William County Young Democrats. Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Futrell has lived in Prince William for five years.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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