By mid afternoon, voters had slowed to a trickle at polling booths in towns along the fringes of northern Virginia exurbia, which often provides the swing vote for the state as a whole. Voters we talked to tended to be disgusted in general with the Bush Administration and fed up with the dirty Senate campaign. Nonetheless, there were numerous Allen diehards, who noted he had been dependable in the past and now could be viewed as the lesser of two evils.
Reston, once a model new town, is situated well out from Washington in northern Virginia, the key swing area of the state. At the Community Center, Jane Bullock, 58, an entrepreneur, formerly Chief of Staff for FEMA, said she had to leave her job at FEMA because of the administration. She was plenty mad. “This country is on the wrong track, the president is deranged. We need senators who will bridge the gap. I think Webb is more conservative than I am but he’s the better choice. He’s got the right attitude on the war in Iraq.” She went on, “This administration, they don’t care about government. You saw what happened with Katrina. They simply don’t care about people and it shows in their government.”
Linda Cooper, 37, bartender, former graphic designer, came up to the polling station skipping and singing: “This is the best day of the year!” She declared, “Mr. Bush is inarticulate and the Republican Party follows a not very well thought out foreign policy, and a not very well thought out domestic policy. I don’t think they care about the average American who earn less than $30,000 a year. He is insular in his wealth and I think the majority of Republicans are. And I think the average American is suffering.” Time for a change, she said.
Justin Salop, 26, accountant, said he voted for Allen: “There was a lot more negative ads and campaigning and more shock than what I have seen in the past. It has made me increasingly upset with the parties and politics.” He decided to vote for “the lesser of two evils,” adding, “Being a business guy I have always been for growth and expansion, but I think we have hit a point, at least in this area where it has gone way too far. I’m getting tired of every little area being turned into a condo.”
Dave Spanbauer, 62, retired high school basketball coach, voted for George Allen “because he’s an athlete and because I’m a basketball coach. I would have voted Democrat if the Democrat person had enticed me to vote for him. But the fact that he came on to slander Allen.”
Further west is Leesburg, offering a nostalgic glimpse of a Virginia long gone. In the early 1970s you could still see chain gangs of prisoners working along the roadside under a shotgun toting police officer. Segregation died hard around here, if in fact it did die. By its looks, Leesburg remains a memento of an earlier time. At the town firehouse, Mary Kraseman, 65 and retired, said “George Allen has always come through on what he said he was going to do.”‘
A 58 year old woman teacher, who asked that her name not be used, said “I think it’s time for a change and the Republicans have messed things up totally.”
Purcellville, once a farm town center not far from Leesburg, now part of the sprawling exurbia. At the elementary school, Mary Coate, 50, a housewife said, “I am for the marriage amendment. I believe it should be between a man and a woman and I don’t want people from Massachusetts coming and demanding recognition for their gay marriages.”
— Reporting in Virginia by Caroline Dobuzinskis and Jessica Savage