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Stafford supervisor race offers surprises

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Though just two faces on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors will be new come 2014, this year’s election had a few surprises. 

First was Ty Schieber’s loss to Democratic challenger Laura Sellers in the Garrisonville District by a mere 51 votes.

Schieber said Wednesday afternoon he will not ask for a recount, which he had at first considered upon hearing the news of the margin, just over 1 percent.

But after talking to Registrar Greg Riddlemoser and learning about how ballots are counted in the first place, and the fact that no changes were made during Wednesday’s canvass, he decided not to.

The nine provisional votes cast are “not enough to make a difference,” said Schieber, 48, a Republican who served two years on the School Board before being appointed to temporarily fill the Board of Supervisors seat vacated by Del. Mark Dudenhefer when he was first elected to state office. Schieber then won a special election in 2012.

Though he easily captured the majority of votes in Stafford, Dudenhefer lost to Democratic challenger Michael Futrell this week for the 2nd House of Delegates seat.

Sellers, 28, was the only one of three local Democratic candidates to win Tuesday—but that’s more than the party can say about the race two years ago when the GOP took greater control of the board.

Now, northern Stafford is becoming more hospitable for Democrats, said Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.

“The line of demarcation between where Democrats and Republicans win is steadily moving further and further from D.C.,” Farnsworth said.

Garrisonville voters also primarily chose Republicans for state offices.

“There’s a lot of possibilities with the margin that close. It’s very difficult to pinpoint any specific reason,” Schieber said about his loss.

Sellers, who ran against Dudenhefer four years ago, brought a youthful energy to the campaign and was a favorite during the NAACP debate last month. She also said her team registered many seniors at high schools during the election cycle.

Meanwhile, in Aquia, 21-year-old Mara Sealock didn’t fare too badly against two term incumbent Paul Milde considering her lackluster campaign over the past few months. Milde, 46, won with 55 percent of the vote while Sealock claimed 45 percent.

The $800 in Sealock’s pocket stood little chance against the overwhelming $43,499 Milde had raised in 2013.

“A Democratic challenger for the county board did better than anyone would expect,” Farnsworth said.

She did little if anything to reach voters until last week and still managed to win two of Aquia’s four precincts.

Sealock was “essentially a placeholder for the Democrats” who didn’t get serious about campaigning until five days before the election, according to a Facebook post by Marc Broklawski, chair of Virginia’s First Congressional District Democratic Committee. He helped her campaign this past week.

“Mara Sealock busted her behind on Election Day and has a lot to be proud of! If we had a little more time and money to get our message out, Milde would have been defeated,” he wrote.

Milde, who’s excited to be the first Aquia supervisor to serve three terms, said he wasn’t surprised to lose the two precincts—Aquia and Courthouse—that are typically left-leaning, though he’s hoping to decrease the margin in the future. Voters there also chose the Democratic candidates for state office.

“I did not mount the same campaign that I would have against a more formidable opponent,” Milde said.

But he did show support financially in other races.

Milde donated to the campaigns of many other local candidates: Schieber, Falmouth independent candidate Robert Belman and School Board candidates Mark Kitta, Eric Herr and Vanessa Griffin, as well as Dudenhefer and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

They all lost Tuesday.

“Every Republican I supported lost except me,” Milde said. “We win some, we lose some. It wasn’t a good day for all Republicans in Stafford.”

Falmouth was a different story as the GOP held onto its seat. There, School Board member Meg Bohmke won with 43 percent of the vote, compared to independent Robert Belman’s 30 percent and Democrat Valerie Setzer’s 26 percent.

Bohmke, 54, will fill Susan Stimpson’s seat on the board as essentially her hand-picked replacement. Stimpson, who did not run for re-election, managed the campaign for Bohmke and School Board winner Scott Hirons. Stimpson had represented Falmouth on the Stafford board for one term, and served as the chair for two years.

During that time, she made a failed bid for lieutenant governor, falling short of enough support at the May convention when the Republican party chose its state slate. The field was crowded, but Baptist minister E.W. Jackson came out on top. He lost Tuesday in the state races’ widest margin to Democrat Ralph Northam.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975