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Either Al Bedrosian's or Mike Bailey's name will be drawn from a "dark bag."
Monday, May 13, 2013
UPDATE May 14: Bedrosian wins "dark bag" drawing for Hollins nomination
Despite months of front-stoop campaigning and the staking of political positions, winning the Republican Party’s nomination in the Roanoke County race for the Hollins supervisor seat will come down to crossed fingers and blind luck.
Victory will emerge from a single, dark bag. Not the flip of a coin, not rock-paper-scissors — nothing that would require refereeing or leave room for acrimony.
After an unusual 389-389 tie at Saturday’s firehouse primary, the Roanoke County Republican Party’s executive committee convened late Sunday to figure just how and when the party would choose to nominate either Al Bedrosian or Mike Bailey. The rules of the Hollins canvass dictate that, in the case of a tie, the winner be drawn by lot.
David Suetterlein, chairman of the Roanoke County Republican Committee, said the committee members discussed several ways in which to conduct the drawing, taking care to avoid scenarios that could cause disagreement. For instance, if a coin were tossed, what if both candidates called heads or tails? The committee eventually chose to write each candidate’s name on five markers, then toss the 10 markers into a “dark bag.”
“This method also isn’t all that different from when the state board of elections has to decide who will be listed first on the ballot,” Suetterlein said.
The committee selected former Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Don Huffman to draw the winning marker today at a 9:30 a.m. public event at the Roanoke County Administration Building.
Speaking by phone from Richmond on Monday, Bedrosian said he already felt at peace no matter whose name would be drawn.
“I think that the outcomes are what they are,” he said. “The reality is you go into these things and know that one candidate isn’t going to win. It’s just part of life.”
He added: “It was kind of surprising that it was a tie, but you’ve got to think it’s happened before.”
He was right, though not in Roanoke County’s recent history. In 1987, George Gray, a political newcomer to Montgomery County politics, tied Lindsay West, the then-chairman of the board of supervisors, in the general election for West’s seat.
According to the story that ran in The Roanoke Times, the 478-478 tie left election officials flipping through state code in search of guidance. After a recount confirmed the tie, Gray’s name was chosen from a brown paper bag to win the election.
The winner of Tuesday’s Hollins District drawing will go on to face independent candidate Gary Jarrell. No Democrat has emerged as a candidate for the office. The seat has been held by a Republican, Richard Flora, since 2002.
The random drawing in Roanoke County could carry broad implications about the future temperament of the board, which is expected to make several decisions about expensive and far-reaching issues, including storm water management, at the beginning of the new year.
Through the course of their campaigns, Bailey and Bedrosian differentiated themselves as two different types of conservatives. Bailey staked himself as a middle-of-the-road conservative. Bedrosian presented himself to voters as a candidate further to the right.
When the announcement was made that the nominee would be to drawn by lot on Saturday, Bailey immediately voiced his frustration.
“You’re talking about the future of the county being determined by chance,” he said. “Welcome to leadership. Sometimes you have to make a decision and go with it. I would just be comfortable knowing that an actual decision was made.”
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