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A random drawing puts the previously unsuccessful House of Delegates candidate on the November ballot for Roanoke County supervisor.
KYLE GREEN | The Roanoke Times
Former state Republican Party chairman Don Huffman (second from left) congratulates Al Bedrosian after picking the winning tongue depressor from a pillowcase during a random drawing to select the Republican nominee for the Hollins supervisors race. The draw was held at the Roanoke County Administration Center on Tuesday morning following a 389-389 tie Bedrosian had with Mike Bailey during Saturday’s Fire House Primary. David Suetterlein (center), Roanoke County Republican Committee chairman, Susan K. Edwards (second from right), Republican Party of Virginia 9th District State Central Committee Representative, and candidate Mike Bailey (right) are also pictured.
KYLE GREEN | The Roanoke Times
Al Bedrosian gets a hug from his wife Cassidy Bedrosian after Al's name was picked from a pillowcase during a random drawing to select the Republican nominee for the Hollins supervisors race. The draw was held at the Roanoke County Administration Center on Tuesday morning following a 389-389 tie Bedrosian had with Mike Bailey during Saturday’s Fire House Primary.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
They found democracy. It was at the bottom of a maroon pillowcase.
After two full days of suspense, Roanoke County Republicans on Tuesday chose Al Bedrosian as their nominee in the Hollins District supervisors race. Bedrosian was selected by a random draw, after an unusual 389-389 tie with his opponent, Mike Bailey, during Saturday’s firehouse primary.
More than 30 people crowded into a fourth-floor conference room at the Roanoke County Administration Center on Tuesday morning, where the two men gathered with Don Huffman, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. The candidates each wrote their names on five tongue depressors, then placed them into the pillowcase.
With little fanfare, Huffman reached deep into the cloth and pulled out a single tongue depressor. He handed it to David Suetterlein, the Roanoke County Republican Committee chairman, who read the name aloud. Bedrosian’s wife, Cassidy, stood up from her seat.
The decision to pick the party’s nominee at random stemmed from the Hollins District canvass rules, which dictate that, in the event of a tie, the winner would be drawn by lot. The party’s executive committee met late Sunday to decide precisely how they would carry out the drawing.
They settled on the pillowcase method.
“I can’t think of another way to break a tie,” said Tonia Harris, the party’s secretary. “It just shows the importance of everyone getting out to vote, and how one vote can make the difference.”
Just moments before speaking, a teary-eyed Harris had approached Bailey, her arms outstretched.
“I prayed so hard for you,” she told him.
Bedrosian will go on to face independent Gary Jarrell in the November general election. No Democrat has emerged as a candidate for the office. The seat has been held by a Republican, Richard Flora, since 2002.
After a round of hand shaking, Bedrosian said he was pleased to have gotten his party’s nomination. During his campaign, Bedrosian had staked himself as hard-right Republican with strong tea party ties. He has proposed slicing the county budget by 2 percent to 3 percent across all departments, and emphasized his wish to halt several capital projects.
During the course of his own campaign, Bailey had emerged as a middle-of-the-road conservative, more cautious about cutting numbers than his opponent.
When asked how he might align Bailey voters under his cause, Bedrosian shrugged.
“The reality is, I’m not out to please anybody,” he said. “We will continue to espouse these views and come what may.”
After the drawing, Bailey stepped to the side of the conference room, still visibly shaken from the results. When asked if he planned to run again, he said he would not.
“It’s kind of a lot of hullabaloo over a quick moment,” Bailey said. “This is not something anyone had planned on.”
Huffman, who served as the state chairman for the Republican Party from 1983 to 1992, said he had never taken part in a political random drawing before Tuesday. He said he was honored to have been asked to pick the winner from the bag — adding that Bedrosian and Bailey attend his same church, Shenandoah Baptist.
“It went off really well, I think,” he said. “It’s politics, somebody’s going to win and somebody’s going to lose.”
As onlookers filed from the room and made their ways to the parking lot, Bailey walked over to the spot where Bedrosian’s five children stood. They had all helped their father during the campaign, passing out fliers and knocking on doors.
“Guys, you all did a good job,” Bailey said. “You’re the pride of your dad and pride of your mom. Congratulations.”
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