With a win in the 8th District special election, Joe McNamara helped Republicans to maintain their majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting at 10:45 p.m., McNamara had 63 percent of the vote.
Democratic challenger Carter Turner was unable to ride the blue wave to victory, despite his strategy of focusing on issues rather than party affiliation. Had Turner managed to eke out a win in the district, which typically supports Republican candidates, the House would have been split 50-50.
The House of Delegates 8th District includes Salem, Craig County and parts of Roanoke and Montgomery counties. This was the lone House of Delegates race on the ballot Tuesday.
The special election was prompted by the departure of Greg Habeeb. The Republican legislator stepped down in August to oversee a new office of the Roanoke-based Gentry Locke law firm.
Though McNamara’s win gives Republicans the majority in the House, they’ll have to defend it in another special election as a result of Del. Ben Cline’s Tuesday win in the 6th Congressional District.
McNamara, 55, is a longtime member of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors. He owns two ice cream shops and is a certified public accountant.
At a Republican watch party at the Holiday Inn-Tanglewood Tuesday night, McNamara thanked everyone who’d worked on his campaign, calling their effort “unbelievable.” McNamara said his wife offered to bake them pies.
“I said, ‘Well, Cheryl, you don’t realize how many people are helping with this campaign,’” he said.
McNamara emphasized his background as a supervisor and small-business owner. The candidate pitched himself as a fiscal conservative, noting he had never voted for a tax increase and helped Roanoke County to reduce its debt.
In an interview Tuesday, McNamara said he felt his record resonated with voters in what he described as a conservative area.
McNamara said he was excited to represent not only the people of Roanoke County, as he’s done for nearly two decades, but also people in Craig and Montgomery counties, along with Salem.
“I’m real excited that the voters of the 8th district decided to support the campaign,” McNamara said.
Turner, 48, is an associate director of advancement at Radford University. He also lives in Roanoke County. This was his second attempt to capture the 8th District seat, having challenged Republican Morgan Griffith in 2009.
Turner identified broadband, education, opioid addiction and transportation — specifically improving I-81 — as his top priorities.
Staff writer Amy Friedenberger contributed information to this report.