As another election season gears up, more than 100 people turned out Thursday night for a 90-minute candidate forum hosted by Culpeper Republican Committee at the American Legion.
Candidates for state and local offices seeking the local party’s endorsement or nomination were invited to attend the timed question-and-answer exchange, hosted by Culpeper Times editor Maria Basileo, with GOP Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Carter.
The main event was saved for last: an on-stage match-up between three-term incumbent state Sen. Bryce Reeves of Spotsylvania and retired educator and MAGA Republican Mike Allers of Ruckersville.
Allers is challenging Reeves as an anti-establishment candidate to represent the new 28th District, which now includes Culpeper, Greene, Orange, Madison, Rappahannock and parts of Fauquier and Spotsylvania counties. Republican voters in the district will decide between them in a party-held primary May 6.
Russ Rabb for Culpeper County commonwealth’s attorney took the stage first at Thursday’s forum followed by Joe Watson for Culpeper County sheriff, Missy White for Culpeper County treasurer, Paul Bates for the Board of Supervisors’ Catalpa District and Jon Russell for Culpeper Town Council.
Friday morning, both Reeves and Allers were quick to declare victory at the forum in Culpeper.
“Reeves made a strong showing tonight, with clear and distinct answers both focused on what he has accomplished during his time in the legislature and what the future holds for the 28th district,” according to a campaign release.
“I’m glad so many people were able to take the time to come out tonight,” said Reeves. “I believe that this was one of the strongest showings of support I have ever seen at an event like this. There’s a reason my opponent refuses to discuss policy and differentiate himself from my stances, and instead resorts to baseless attacks to gain support.
“Tonight was a prime example of this, and I am proud that the voters of the 28th district have refused to fall for my opponent’s divisive rhetoric, and instead are focusing on the results I continue to produce in Richmond.”
Team Allers swiftly responded, saying they were very pleased and thankful for the turnout at the candidates forum.
“The Folks of the 28th District are tired of the establishment, crony politics, and the uni-party’s approach to governing the Commonwealth. The GRASSROOTS do not want a “pay for play” corporately funded representative under thumb of Dominion, Pace-O-Matic, and Chinese owned Smithfield,” Allers said in a message to the Star-Exponent.
“They want a Senator who represents WE THE PEOPLE not the Elite Club Member Set. I will ONLY be beholden to the voter. I cannot wait to REPRESENT YOU! I will never forget that “I WORK FOR YOU.” I WILL be your VOICE in Richmond.”
Voting will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 at three sites in the 28th District. There will be no absentee, provisional or write-in voting.
Voters who reside in Fauquier and Rappahannock will cast ballots in person at Grace Miller Elementary School, located at 6248 Catlett Rd. in Bealeton.
Voters residing in Culpeper, Madison and Greene will cast ballots at Reformation Lutheran Church, located at 601 Madison Rd. in Culpeper.
Voters residing in Orange and Spotsylvania will cast ballots at Unionville Elementary School, located at 10285 Zachary Taylor Hwy. in Unionville.
In order to vote, the district’s Republican Committees are requiring registered voters to sign a Declaration of Voter Qualification form stating they are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party and will support the Republican nominees in the Nov. 7 general election.
Voters wanting to participate in the Reeves-Allers primary must also acknowledge that if they publicly support a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee, they will be banned from party actions for four years, and that they have not participated in the nominating process of another party in the last five years.
Or, the Declaration of Voter Qualification form states, voters acknowledge they have participated in the nominating process of another party in the last five years, but renounce affiliation with any party other than Republicans.
The 28th Senate District Republican Committee will provide a copy of any signed renunciation statements to the Republican Party of Virginia, according to a party release.
Voters participating in the upcoming firehouse primary must also agree to a “voluntary contribution of $10” to defray the cost of the canvass via check or money order, payable to the 28th Senate District Republican Committee.
Pick up Wednesday’s paper and at starexponent.com for more photos of the candidates forum and the separate views of Reeves and Allers.