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Democratic 2023 Post-Election Analysis

In 2023, our committee mainly focused on our local elections. Almost all of our local offices were on the ballot, with the exception of a few school board and board of supervisor seats. Specifically, our three incumbents, Fred Parker (Treasurer), Josh Cumbow (Commonwealth's Attorney), and Phil McCall (Board of Supervisors Harrison District), were up for re-election. We also recruited two outstanding first-time candidates, Julianne Miles (Board of Supervisors Madison District) and Christina Clark Rehfuss (Commissioner of Revenue). We learned a lot during this election cycle, and I think it's worth noting what worked, what didn't, and the trends in the election results.


The Breakdown

Let's take a moment to break down each race and what factors swayed public opinion, as each race differed vastly.


Treasurer

Fred Parker was our Democratic candidate for Washington County Treasurer and has held this office for the past 37 years. He is undoubtedly widely known and has the power of incumbency. Fred was running against Republican candidate Derek Webb, former Abingdon Mayor and a Food City pharmacist. Derek Webb is also widely known in the Town of Abingdon due to his role on the Town Council. Webb's main attack on Parker was his age.









Parker won his re-election campaign with a very close margin of 2.12% and just 337 votes. He also won almost every precinct on the east side of the county. I am convinced that if Fred Parker was not an incumbent and so widely known, there is a good chance that he would have lost this election because he has never disavowed his Democratic values, and because Republicans vote straight ticket rather than for the most qualified candidate.



For specific precinct breakdowns with an interactive map, click here.


What does this tell our committee? While yes, we won almost every precinct on the eastern side of the county, we still have to keep momentum, as we only won by a small margin. However, it is worth noting that these results show that we need to spend more time and allocate more resources in the western and central parts of the county in order to get more desired results.


I would like to note that with the exception of West Abingdon, Parker lost every Abingdon-related precinct. Within the past four election cycles, he has won Abingdon by a large margin. This is largely a result of Derek Webb's name recognition and popularity in Abingdon.


There is a trend in these results; take a look at the Commonwealth's Attorney race, click here.


Parker raised and spent $29,790 during this election cycle. Webb raised and spent $13,435 while campaigning.


 

Commonwealth's Attorney

Josh Cumbow was our Democratic candidate for Washington County Commonwealth's Attorney. He has been our Commonwealth's Attorney for the past 8 years. Josh, like Fred, also has the power of being an incumbent. Josh was running against Republican candidate Dove Goodpaster, an attorney who works in private practice. Up to the election date, she had never held a jury trial. Goodpaster's main attack on Cumbow was that "progressive prosecutors are no longer prosecuting misdemeanor thefts."









Cumbow won re-election with a margin of 15.26% and 2,404 votes. He also won every precinct in the eastern parts of the county, with the exception of Hayter's Gap.



For specific precinct breakdowns with an interactive map, click here.


What does this tell our committee? Once again, I reaffirm my position on maintaining momentum in the eastern parts of the county and spending some more time on the western part of the county. The trends between Cumbow and Parker's elections truly show where our supporters are, and many questions are answered with these results.


Cumbow raised $37,282 and spent $29,286. Goodpaster raised and spent $9,622.


 

Commissioner of Revenue

Christina Clark Rehfuss was our Democratic candidate for Washington County Commissioner of Revenue. She was a first-time candidate but has been active in the community. Rehfuss serves on the County Planning Commission and Zoning Appeals Board. Christina was running against three different candidates: April Crabtree (R), Mark Matney (I), and David Henry (I). April Crabtree is a former educator and insurance agent. Mark Matney was the incumbent Commissioner of Revenue who referred to himself as a 'Trump Republican' despite being kicked out of the Republican Party of Washington County. David Henry was the former two-time Commissioner of Revenue who used to be our candidate but left after blaming his loss on being a Democrat. This election was arguably the most challenging due to the amount of candidates in the race and the presence of two incumbents.











Christina lost this election but still obtained 12.77% of the vote in a handicapped race. She performed the best in the Abingdon precincts and the western part of the county. This is likely due to Christina growing up and living in the county's western part.


Due to the number of candidates running in this race, a visual of the county would be ineffective. However, if you want to see a visualized precinct breakdown, click here.


Christina Rehfuss raised and spent $20,849. Crabtree raised $18,415 and spent $17,537. Matney raised $31,785 and spent $33,510. Henry raised and spent $580.


 

Board of Supervisors (District A, Harrison)

Phil McCall was our Democratic candidate for the Washington County Board of Supervisors in the Harrison district. He has served in this office for the past 26 years. Phil was running against Independent candidate (Leans R) Ben Abel, general manager of the Glenrochie Country Club in Abingdon.








For specific precinct breakdowns with an interactive map, click here.


Phil won re-election with a large margin of 30.69% and 653 votes. He won both East and West Abingdon precincts and performed the best in West Abingdon. Phil's opponent was not very visible, with only a few campaign signs.


Ben Abel only raised and spent $550 during his campaign. McCall raised $3,448 and spent $2,936 during this election cycle. It was money well spent and clearly paid off due to the large margin.


 

Board of Supervisors (District C, Madison)

Julianne Johnson Miles was our Democratic candidate for the Washington County Board of Supervisors in the Madison district. She was a first-time candidate and the most qualified. She is a former educator and a veteran. Julianne was running against Republican candidate Charlie Hargis, who was the incumbent of this seat. Hargis is the Chair of the Washington County "Tea Party" but has still earned support from the Republican party despite the Tea Party's opposition to them.








For specific precinct breakdowns with an interactive map, click here.


Julianne lost this election but impressively got 41.45% of the vote. This was the difference of just 437 votes. For a first-time candidate, this is incredible and definitely a winnable district for Democrats in the future. She performed the best in South Abingdon with a difference of just 102 votes. Julianne had an impressive canvassing strategy this election cycle. She knocked on every door in the Madison district, and these results have proven that door-knocking makes a difference in local elections.


Charlie Hargis raised and spent $2,815. Julianne raised $7,760 and spent $5,869 during her election cycle campaign.


In a Bristol Herald Courier interview, Charlie Hargis stated, "This is my last run." and "I'm not going for another run." This will leave an open seat in 2027, and I think Democrats have a real shot at flipping this seat.


 

Key Takeaways


  • While our committee did not win every election we were invested in, we were able to win 3 of the 5 in a rural red area.

  • Our base is in the central and eastern parts of the county, and we need to focus resources and time on the western and northern parts.

  • In two of our races, our candidates spent more money than the winning candidate and still lost. This proves it's the message and Party affiliation, not the money.

  • Canvassing is key for a candidate's campaign.


These key takeaways are instrumental to our election operation in years to come. Our committee will be more experienced and ready to face challenges that may arise.


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I enjoyed dissecting the election results. Thanks for sharing them. Maybe folks will see that there are more Democrats out there than one might think.

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