Clark wins GOP bid for House race

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Republican voters participating in Saturday’s party canvass chose Stan Clark as their candidate to run for the 64th District seat on the House of Delegates.

Clark, a 53-year-old resident of Carrollton, is a trial attorney with an office in Portsmouth and a member of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors representing the Newport district. He will face incumbent William Barlow (D-Smithfield) in the general election on Nov. 3.

“We’re going to work real hard,” Clark said Monday. “We’re very optimistic about November and look forward to a spirited debate on the issues.”

Clark defeated Surry resident Mike Holle, a 47-year-old corporate engineering coordinator for Dominion Virginia Power, by a 518-461 tally for the nomination.

Republicans went to two polling places, on one each side of the James River, to cast their votes. Voters north of the James went to the James City County Government Complex in Williamsburg, and those south of the river went to the Nike Park Senior Center in Carrollton.

According to Isle of Wight Republican Committee Chairman Cristina Morris, Clark received the bulk of his votes in Carrollton. He received 426 votes there, but only 92 in Williamsburg. Meanwhile, Holle received 209 and 252 votes north and south of the river, respectively.

“It was a great first victory that’s just going to lead us into victory in November,” Morris said. “This was the first battle in the war.”

Clark said his Democratic opponent, who has been in office since 1992, “is someone that I respect and is a man of honor and integrity. I will do everything I can to wage an issue-oriented, clean campaign with Mr. Barlow.”

But he said Barlow, who serves on the Courts of Justice, General Laws and Militia, Police and Public Safety committees in the House of Delegates, came late to the issue of funding for the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry. Barlow had urged Gov. Tim Kaine to restore the ferry service in an April 24 letter to the governor, to which Kaine said he would oblige in a May 4 statement.

“Only after the Isle of Wight County board passed a resolution asking the governor to eliminate the security (checks on both sides of the James River) and restore full funding, and only after the James City County board did the same thing, and only after two or three newspapers got on the subject, did Mr. Barlow write that letter. So he was very late to that game, and the governor bailed him out on it.”

Barlow countered that he had taken up the ferry issue as soon as he got word that funding might be cut for the service.

“I have been actively trying to prevent this from happening since January,” Barlow said. “It was certainly a team effort, and I have been working for a long time on that effort.”

According to Clark, the top issue for the upcoming campaign will be the economy.

“The economy is on everybody’s mind,” Clark said. “We’ve got to create an environment that creates jobs in a responsible manner. I think most voters are very concerned with the manner in which we’re doing that. One of our problems has been financial mismanagement, and then we start bailing out people for financial mismanagement. And one of our other issues is that we’re a debt-laden society. Our answer to that has been to add more debt. I think the economy, and how we’re approaching it, is going to be a huge issue.”

Barlow said he is prepared to defend his seat.

“We welcome Mr. Clark into the race, and I look forward to a full discussion of the issues,” he said.

Clark said he believes he won Saturday’s contest because he ran a clean campaign.

“If the people who showed up to the polls were any indication, the negative campaign that was run by my opponent motivated many of them to come to the polls. Most of them knew me, and almost all of the things that were alleged by my opponent were false.”

Holle, a conservative Republican, said Monday that he was waiting to hear from Clark about possibly helping him in the general election. Holle also said he was looking into possibly helping with Bob McDonnell’s campaign for governor.

“The vote was really close,” Holle said. “We only lost by 57 votes, which is like five percent of the total. That’s not that bad. But I’m going to be spending some time with the family.” He said he might decide to run again in two years.

The 64th District comprises all of Surry County, and most of Isle of Wight County. Small portions of James City County and Southampton County are also in the district, as well as the entire city of Williamsburg, and part of the city of Franklin.

When asked to describe the district’s political character, Clark, who describes himself as a GOP moderate, said he thought it was “moderate to conservative.”

“It’s certainly not moderate to liberal,” he said.