2007-01-10 / News

Guidelines set for 68th District delegate race

By Greg Pearson

Though some of the details still need to be ironed out, the selection process for the Republican nomination between Manoli Loupassi and Will Shewmake to represent the 68th District as a candidate for delegate has begun. The two hopefuls recently met with Sherman Litton, chairman of the Chesterfield Republican Committee, to discuss mutually agreeable terms for how Republicans are going to pick their nominee.

According to Litton, the candidates agreed "to avoid the expense of a primary," preferring a canvass of voters in the district. A canvass would mean either a direct vote between the two candidates or voting for one of two slates pledged to vote for a specific candidate. The second option is similar to the Electoral College. Litton expected the canvass to occur between Apr. 1 and May 15 with one voting location in Chesterfield and the other in the city.

The candidates also agreed to forgo a pledge that each canvass voter would vote for the Republican nominee in the fall. That pledge was objected to by some Republicans last year when a canvass was used to select the party nominee to run for Midlothian supervisor. If party rules require a pledge, both candidates hope to water down the language.

Chesterfield resident Margie Davis is chairing a two-person committee with Peter Broadbent representing the city. If the candidates can't agree on the remaining details, Davis will make the decision on other rules since Chesterfield comprises most of the district.

Shewmake is pressing his Chesterfield advantage since he lives in the county but works in the city. Chesterfield voters make up 58 percent of the 68th District, which includes Bon Air and the Robious Road corridor, while the remaining 42 percent live in west Richmond where Loupassi resides.

While that would seemingly give Shewmake an advantage, he only decided to run last month and has just begun fundraising. Loupassi began more than six months ago and has already raised $125,000. Loupassi, the former president of the Richmond City Council, has lined up Republican endorsements from Attorney General Bob McDonnell, State Senator Steve Martin, Delegate Sam Nixon, Clover Hill Supervisor Art Warren and Chesterfield's constitutional officers.

Shewmake has Republican endorsements from Supervisors Kelly Miller, Dickie King, Renny Humphrey and two former county supervisors who agree with him that a Chesterfield resident will fight harder for the county's interests. Midlothian School Board Member Jim Schroeder also recently endorsed Shewmake, but newly-elected Midlothian Supervisor Don Sowder is staying neutral even though Loupassi campaigned with him door-to-door two months ago when Sowder was seeking the supervisor seat.

Waiting in the wings is Independent Katherine Waddell, who currently represents the 68th after eking out a narrow victory in 2005 over former incumbent Republican Brad Marrs.

Chesterfield Democrats will wait to see what Republicans do before deciding whether to support Waddell again or put up their own candidate. Spokesperson Lynne Cooper expected "an emotional and hard-hitting battle for the Republican nomination."

Despite rumors, Midlothian Planning Commissioner Dan Gecker, who lost to Sowder last November, says he's not interested in running. "I haven't considered running in the 68th," he said. "It's not where my interests lie."

Some Republicans had speculated that Gecker might run if Republicans selected Loupassi because Loupassi and Waddell are both city residents. If Democrats choose a Chesterfield resident, that candidate would likely carry the county vote and win the election.

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