The longest serving member of the General Assembly is Lacey Putney. Putney was first elected in 1962- and celebrated his 50th anniversary in the General Assembly this year. When he was first elected Lacey Putney was a Democrat, turning Independent in 1968. Putney stayed a conservative Independent for almost 30 years after that- with both parties confident that he would side with them if his vote would be decisive in House control. When that moment finally came after the 1997 elections with the House at 50-49-1, Putney voted with the GOP. While he was continued to run as an Independent since then he has become trusted by the Republican House Caucus- and they made Putney the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 2008 after the retirement of Vince Callahan.
House District #19 (map here)
39.7% of the vote in Botetourt County
28.9% of the vote in Bedford County
18.2% of the vote in Alleghany County
7.2% of the vote in Bedford City
6.0% of the vote in Covington City
2012 Major Party Election Results
Mitt Romney 24,607 (64.0%)
Barack Obama 13,817 (36.0%)
George Allen 24,514 (62.9%)
Tim Kaine 14,465 (37.1%)
Bob Goodlatte/Robert Hurt/Morgan Griffith 26,336 (69.2%)
Andy Schmookler/John Douglass/Anthony Flaccavento 11,702 (30.8%)
(Broken down below)
Bob Goodlatte 12,478 (75.3%)
Andy Schmookler 4,091 (24.7%)
Robert Hurt 9,665 (73.0%)
John Douglass 3,578 (27.0%)
Morgan Griffith 5,193 (56.3%)
Anthony Flaccavento 4,035 (43.7%)
WEST VIRGINIA- The state the Presidential results most closely match with. West Virginia had a margin of 27.4% for Romney, while the 19th Delegate District of Virginia had a margin of 28.1% for Romney.
The 2011 redistricting split the Alleghany Highlands into three different legislative districts- placing Alleghany County and Covington City into the 19th district for the first time. The district's base has long been Bedford County and Bedford City, but the population growth in Botetourt and the splitting of Bedford County into three legislative districts has made Botetourt the largest vote base here for the first time. This district is also where all three western Congressional districts meet- the Alleghany Highlands linked up through Craig County to be part of the 9th Congressional District, Botetourt and parts of Bedford County in the Valley to Roanoke based 6th Congressional District, and parts of Bedford County and Bedford City that connect to southside in the 5th Congressional district.
In the Presidential race, Mitt Romney carried the City of Bedford by a 1,527-1,225 (55.5%) vote over Barack Obama. Romney carried the 5th district portions of Bedford County by an a wider 7,025-2,880 (70.9%) vote. Moving west, Romney also won the Bedford County precincts in the 6th district by a wide margin, 838-268 (69.5%). Romney won a big victory in the Botetourt County precincts here too, 10,647-4,622 (69.7%). After that, moving north into the Alleghany Highlands you see a very close election in Alleghany County with Romney defeating Obama by a 3,595-3,403 (51.4%) vote, and Covington City going for Obama by a 1,319-975 (57.5%) margin.
Starting on the east side of this district in the Senate race, Tim Kaine ran behind Barack Obama in the City of Bedford- falling by a 1,520-1,180 (56.3%) vote to George Allen- a 0.8% crossover to Allen from the top of the ticket. In the Bedford County precincts in the 5th Congressional district, that crossover shifted to the Dems- with Allen winning a 6,872-3,052 (69.2%) vote- or a crossover of 1.7% to Kaine from the top of the ticket. Kaine won an even larger 3.4% crossover in the Bedford County precincts in the 6th Congressional district, losing the vote by a 794-407 (66.1%) margin. Kaine also won a good sized 2.1% crossover from the top of the ticket in Botetourt County but still lost by a 10,459-5,013 (67.6%) vote. The crossover shifted back in Allen's favor in the Alleghany Highlands- with Alleghany County casting their votes for Allen 3,798-3,507 (52.0%), a 0.6% crossover for Allen from the top of the ticket. In Covington City, Allen's crossover was an even larger 2.6% over Romney, as he fell to Kaine there by a 1,306-1,071 (54.9%) vote.
In each section of this district the most popular candidate on the ballot was the local Republican Congressman. In Bedford City, Robert Hurt won by a 1,584-1,023 (60.8%) vote- or 5.3% better than Romney. In the Bedford County portion of the 5th district, Hurt dominated John Douglass by a 7,081-2,553 (73.5%) vote margin or 2.6% above Romney's performance. In the Bedford County precincts in the 6th Congressional District, Bob Goodlatte won a 895-297 (75.1%) victory, or 5.6% better than Romney. Same in Botetourt, where Goodlatte won a 11,583-3,794 (75.3%) landslide over Andy Schmookler, also 5.6% above Romney's vote. In the Alleghany Highlands, Morgan Griffith took a close Presidential vote in Alleghany County and broke it wide open for the GOP with a 4,057-2,871 (58.6%) win over Anthony Flaccavento, a 7.2% crossover vote above Romney. Griffith also won a 6.9% crossover in Covington City coming up just short of pulling it out of the Democratic column with a vote total of 1,164-1,136 (50.6%).
After Lacey Putney sided with the GOP when they needed his vote in 1997, no Republican had challenged Putney until last year when Jerry Johnson did against the wishes of GOP leadership. Also challenging Putney was a Democrat Lewis Medlin, who had run twice before and never got 30% of the vote. An interesting election broke out. The Alleghany Highlands added in redistricting voted for Medlin (with no evidence that the vote was anything other than a generic "D" vote) and Johnson while not winning a single locality kept a bunch of them close. The result was a suprisingly narrow 43-31-26 race that showed Putney could be vulnerable to either side in a future three way contest.
In particular the area to watch in this new district is Alleghany County and Covington City. They have a politics that conflicts deeply with the areas of Bedford and Botetourt that they have been placed with. In fact in a 2002 special election for the State Senate, these two localities voted for Creigh Deeds with over 90% of their votes over the GOP candidate. Creigh's from neighboring Bath County and represented Covington and Alleghany in the House of Delegates. He should run strong there, but the lack of any GOP base vote in his election really shows the Independence of the electorate. Seeing them vote for Medlin in 2011- who couldn't even get 20% in his home area- indicates that a local candidate with real ties in the Alleghany Highlands could blow out a victory up there with some serious margin over Putney.
If Putney were to retire, the math becomes very favorable to the GOP in a two way race. Alleghany and Covington only make up about 25% of the electorate, and the rest of the district is very solidly Republican until you get to the more competitive City of Bedford. Putting together that coalition would require the perfect Democratic candidate with deep ties to both ends of the district- someone I'm not sure even exists.
While Putney may be one of the most powerful lawmakers in Richmond, as long as he insists on running as an Independent, the GOP party line is open- and the next time there is a three way race here things could get very interesting.
Previous Districts Covered
House District #1- Terry Kilgore (Utah)
House District #2- Mark Dudenhefer (Delaware)
House District #3- Will Morefield (Utah)
House District #4- Joe Johnson (Wyoming)
House District #5- Israel O'Quinn (Wyoming)
House District #6- Anne Crockett-Stark (Oklahoma)
House District #7- Nick Rush (Kansas)
House District #8- Greg Habeeb (Arkansas)
House District #9- Charles Poindexter (West Virginia)
House District #10- Randy Minchew (North Carolina)
House District #11- Onzlee Ware (Rhode Island)
House District #12- Joseph Yost (Virginia)
House District #13- Bob Marshall (New Mexico)
House District #14- Danny Marshall (North Carolina)
House District #16- Don Merricks (Mississippi)
House District #17 - Chris Head (Tennessee)
House District #28- Bill Howell (Florida)
House District #32- Tag Greason (New Hampshire)
House District #33- Joe May (Alaska)
House District #50- Jackson Miller (Michigan)
House District #51- Rich Anderson (Ohio)
House District #52- Luke Torian (Hawaii)
House District #87- David Ramadan (Washington)