Home 2017 Races A Few Takeaways from the Huge Democratic Win Tonight in Fairfax County,...

A Few Takeaways from the Huge Democratic Win Tonight in Fairfax County, Virginia


First off, congratulations to Democrat Karen Keys-Gamarra, who is going to do a great job on the Fairfax County School Board after her crushing victory (approximately 2:1 over Republican Chris Grisafe; a 20,000-vote margin for Keys-Gamarra!) tonight for the at-large seat vacated by Republican Jeanette Hough. By the way, note that Fairfax County is Virginia’s largest county, with nearly 1.2 million people – larger than a bunch of states (e.g., Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island).

Second, this is a very bad omen for the two remaining Republicans – Elizabeth Schultz and Tom Wilson – on the Fairfax County School Board, as Keys-Gamarra easily carried each of their magisterial districts (Springfield and Sully, respectively). Watch out in 2019 for a possibly all-Democratic Fairfax County School Board!

Third, according to Fairfax political guru Ben Tribbett, Keys-Gamarra “wins 16 Delegate districts, with only ‘s district still too close to call…The only Delegate district we aren’t sure about yet is ‘s where Keys-Gamarra leads by 40 votes with 2 precincts left to report…Keys-Gamarra has carried the other 16 districts…All precincts now in- and only district Keys-Gamarra lost was the 40th held by and she only lost there by 9 votes.” Let’s see if we can keep this trend going on November 7 for the Virginia House of Delegates.

Fourth, this was not a great night for Ed Gillespie (see photo below) or Barbara Comstock or other top Virginia Republicans who campaigned for Chris Grisafe. Sad!

Fifth, turnout (around 10%) was significantly higher than many had been speculating (I had been hearing worries of turnout as low as 4%). Apparently, a lot of that turnout was made up of Democrats, many of whom undoubtedly are not happy with the Republican Party or its leader, Donald Trump. Let’s hope this “blue” trend continues in November 2017 here in Virginia, then in November 2018 across the country.

Sixth, so much for changing the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School or allowing transgender kids to pee in peace being huge turnout drivers for Republican voters.

Finally, Fairfax County is looking very, very blue right now. For comparison purposes, in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election, Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli 58%-36% in Fairfax County; tonight, Democrat Karen Keys-Gamarra is beating Republican Chris Grisafe by a nearly 2:1 margin. Sounds good to me!

  • “I am so proud of the work that our campaign did,” said Karen Keys-Gamarra. “I would not be here without the support of my friends and supporters. I believe that diversity in our schools should be championed, not shamed, and I proudly stand with students across Fairfax who need a voice.”

  • DPVA statement:

    Karen Keys-Gamarra’s victory tonight reinforces what Jackie Smith’s win proved in April: Democrats are energized and organized, and we’re coming out to vote in droves. This weekend’s GOTV efforts were driven by our grassroots volunteers, and no candidate was more deserving of their support. As noted by the Washington Post in its endorsement of her, Karen is the candidate with the best understanding of the complex challenges facing the school system. As a child advocate, she has a particular interest in addressing bullying and in creating an inclusive learning environment in which every child feels safe. We extend Karen our most sincere congratulations, and we look forward to getting out the vote again this November for Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, Mark Herring, and all our Democrats in House of Delegates races.

  • Virginia Senate Democrats:

    “On behalf of the ​Virginia Senate Democrat​ic Caucus, we would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Karen Keys-Gamarra on her ​election to the Fairfax County School Board. Between Karen’s victory today and Jacqueline Smith’s election as Prince William County Clerk of Court ​in​ April ​ — seats both previously held by Republicans –​ ​it is clear that the momentum is on Democrats’ side heading into November. We intend to take this momentum all the way to our next round of elections in 2019.”

  • Kyle McDaniel

    “Watch out in 2019 for a possibly all-Democratic Fairfax County School Board!”

    you’d have a better chance passing a meals tax.

    • Sully and Springfield went easily for the Dems tonight. See you in 2019 – cant wait! 🙂

      • Kyle McDaniel

        I’ll be here!!

        • woodrowfan

          and pretty darn lonely

  • John Farrell

    The number of voters who came in tee’d off with the Rs manipulating this special was shocking.

    Even voters I know to be Rs voted for Karen because they were fed up with the shenanigns.

  • Scairp

    Hurray. And if certain Americans are fed up with being called racist, they should STOP supporting racists. Pretty simple.

  • 3rdmilleniumteacher

    Both teachers unions and all the public sector labor groups endorsed and spread the word through the Standing Altogether 4 Fairfax Employees coalition. The Republicans ran on taking public sector retirements–maybe not the best choice.

  • Michael Beer

    Can anyone provide details on why the poorest turnout out district (Lee) also was the district that voted in the highest percentage for Karen Key-Gamarra? The number of reg voters also looks relatively low. Is this a priority district for voter reg and GOTV in November?

    • notjohnsmosby

      Hunter Mill went 71.79% for Karen. Lee was 70.95% for Karen.

      Lee has been underperforming for years.

    • John Farrell

      Decades of neglect are hard to turn around.

      Expanding Lee District Dems to be younger and reflect the district’s demographics would certainly help with registration and GOTV.

      Certainly doesn’t bode well for Jeff’s run for Chair in 2019.

  • From the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC):

    Fairfax Democrats cheer the victory of Karen Keys-Gamarra, At-Large-Elect Member of the Fairfax County School Board

    FAIRFAX – Karen Keys-Gamarra, attorney in private practice and a member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission, was the clear winner in the Special Election conducted today to fill the vacant position of At-Large member of the School Board governing the Fairfax County Public Schools.

    Accompanied by elected officials, family, and a large crowd of supporters at the Elks Lodge, Keys-Gamarra said, “I am so grateful to the supporters who embraced this campaign from the beginning. I want to thank my family, my campaign manager Peter Dougherty, a large number of volunteers from the Democratic Committee, and the support of unions from the FEA and FCFT to the Fairfax Firefighters. I am grateful for all of the groups which helped me to secure the victory, and it would not have been possible without them.

    Sue Langley, Chair of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, said, “Despite the difficult challenge facing our candidate, the brevity of the campaign, and the requirement to mobilize her voters on such short notice, the voters made the right choice in electing Karen Keys-Gamarra to the County School Board. Her advocacy for children throughout her career, the three sons she raised through their education in the public schools, and her service on the County Planning Commission give Karen the skills she will need to serve with distinction.

    With all precincts reporting, the unofficial results showed Keys-Gamarra with 41,436 votes, or over 63% of the vote, nearly doubling the turnout for her Republican-endorsed opponent.

  • Fairfax Dems Executive Director Frank Anderson hard at work last night


  • Karen Keys-Gamarra with LG Ralph Northam, Del. Eileen Filler Corn, etc.


  • Another lesson: Virginia Republicans are delusional?

    Fairfax County Republican Committee Statement on the Special Election for School Board At-Large

    Following yesterday’s results, FCRC would like to extend best wishes to Karen Keys-Gamarra. Chris Grisafe ran a fantastic campaign on a shoestring budget. Chris would have been a principled, conservative voice on the School Board, just as he ran his campaign, and we at FCRC are proud of Chris. The party wide effort on behalf of Chris allowed us to increase our share of the vote over the 2016 election, while laying the groundwork needed for victory in November.

    “What I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks is the Fairfax County Republican Party and the state party . . . coming together and coalescing like we haven’t before,” Grisafe said. “I do believe that we are much better postured through this effort going into the November election.”

  • Chris Grisafe on his Facebook page: “Indeed, I am NOT a racist. Nor have I ever associated with any such group (or value system) as you suggest. Ironically, I have a racially blended family, was in the Black Student Union in College, and have only ever been respectful of the dignity of others.”

  • Slavin Rose

    Do not get complacent. Turn out in droves for the Dems – canvassing, phone-banking, donating, starting now at the Labor Day start of the political season.