Batten, Downey apparent primary winners in 96th House District race

Staff writer

Amanda Batten and Mark Downey were the apparent winners in Tuesday’s primary election and are set to compete for the 96th District seat in the state House of Delegates in November. Del. Brenda Pogge announced her retirement in March.

Unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections, with 21 of 23 precincts reporting, show Downey leading the Democratic nomination with 2,190 votes or 55.7%. On the Republican side, Batten was leading with 2,884 votes, or 61.4%.

Mark Downey who has spent 18 years as a pediatrician and has lived in York County for 49 years, said he was grateful for the support the community showed.

“I’ve had numerous folks that said that they’ve never voted for a Democrat before but because of who I am and getting to know me over the past 10, 15 years taking care of their kids that they’re voting for a Democrat for the first time in their life,” Downey said.

Downey was leading mocratic primary candidates Rebecca Leser and Christopher Mayfield.

Batten, Pogge’s former legislative aide, said she was honored to have Pogge’s endorsement in the race, but will seek to set herself apart leading into November’s general election.

“There are obviously a lot of issues that Del. Pogge and I have in common, but there are certainly some ideas that I have that are different from hers, or needs that I see in the district that have popped up over the past couple of years that need to be addressed, and I look forward to tackling those,” she said.

While some election officers said Tuesday’s race brought a number of excited voters to their precincts, others said results were underwhelming.

By 6 p.m., James City County Director of Elections Dianna Moorman reported that 2,571 Democrats in the section of the county within the 96th House District went to the polls, while 2,854 Republicans voted.

“I do believe that it is absolutely slower, but that just means that your voice will be heard even more because the turnout seems to be lower than average,” she said Tuesday morning.

York County Voter Registrar Walt Latham, on the other hand, agreed that Tuesday’s turnout was slower than what would be expected for a more high-profile race, but roughly followed the pace of past state primary elections.

“When I think about it, I don’t know that the numbers are really that far off from what they’ve been in the past for this type of primary,” he said.

At Lafayette High School, only 70 voters had showed up by 4 p.m. for a turnout rate of 5.3%, according to Lesley Roberson, chief elections officer for Lafayette High School.

“It is ever, ever so low,” Roberson said. “It is very slow.”

Voters Ray and Helen Scharfenberger cast their ballots for Mark Downey at Queens Lake. They said they liked his background as a pediatrician and his connection to the community.

“I think he would have a better handle on things from a humanitarian standpoint,” Ray said. “We don’t like the direction that things are going in Washington, and it starts at the local level.”

Mark Holland, who voted at Waller Mill Elementary School, said he voted for Beale, as he had in the past.

“I voted for her in the past, and [because of] her endorsement from other candidates and her NRA rating.”

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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