I have a lot of memories from Gerry Connolly’s St. Patrick’s Day “Fete”/Straw Poll, which I’ve been attending since 2006. The 2006 event, of course, is where Jim Webb won his straw poll victory (58%-42%) over Harris Miller, who was the “establishment” favorite and Rep. Connolly’s pick for the U.S. Senate Democratic nomination to take on George Allen. Some other results from past events include:
- At the 2018 event, nearly 1,000 Dems voted overwhelmingly for Jennifer Wexton for the VA-10 Democratic nomination.
- At the 2017 “fete,” there were something like 1,000 people there, and Ralph Northam beat Tom Perriello 78%-22%, while Justin Fairfax beat Susan Platt and Gene Rossi 78%-16%-6%.
- In 2014, there were around 400 votes cast for the VA-08 Democratic primary, with Don Beyer winning with 35%, followed by Charniele Herring with 13% and Lavern Chatman with 12%.
- And in 2013, over 850 people voted, with Aneesh Chopra winning 70% of the vote for Lt. Governor (over Ralph Northam), and Mark Herring edging out Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor.
- In 2009, Terry McAuliffe crushed Brian Moran 58%-38%, with Creigh Deeds a non-factor (note: Deeds went on to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination over McAuliffe and Moran)
- In 2008, Gerry Connolly beat out Leslie Byrne 57%-34% (and then went on to win the Democratic primary in June handily)
So as you can see, Gerry Connolly’s St. Patrick’s Day party straw polls haven’t always been predictive of the actual results, but they haven’t been too far off either (e.g., Webb won the U.S. Senate nomination in 2006; Herring edged out Fairfax in the 2013 primary; Beyer won the 2014 VA08 nomination; Northam beat Perriello and Fairfax beat Platt and Rossi in 2017; Wexton won the VA10 nomination in 2018).
Also note that while this is a very large straw poll in Virginia’s largest jurisdiction (Fairfax County, population 1.2 million), the crowd there isn’t necessarily representative of who will show up on election day. For non-presidential Democratic primaries, which tend to skew older and less diverse than the Democratic electorate as a whole (let alone the incredibly diverse population of Fairfax County), the Connolly straw poll is almost certainly more representative. But for the 2020 presidential primary, I have strong doubts that we’ll see the type of results we saw tonight (e.g., two of the most progressive candidates – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – getting just 6% and 6.2% of the vote, respectively, while Joe Biden dominates?). As for the County Board Chair race, tonight’s results seemed to skew heavily “establishment,” although there’s little doubt that Jeff McKay is the favorite right now. As for Ryan McElveen, who is the only candidate – as he pointed out – who’s been elected countywide, getting just 9.6% of the vote tonight can’t be what he had hoped for. Still, it’s just a straw poll, and I definitely wouldn’t overblow these things…
With that, here are the straw poll results, followed by County Board Chair candidate speeches – by Tim Chapman, Ryan McElveen, Jeff McKay and Alicia Plerhoples – plus Rep. Gerry Connolly announcing the results and Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova introducing a gazillion Democratic elected officials and candidates (great chance to put faces with names here). Enjoy!
Fairfax County Board Chair straw poll results (456 total votes cast): Jeff McKay 57.5%, Alicia Plerhoples 29.4%, Ryan McElveen 9.6%, Tim Chapman 3.5%
2020 Democratic Presidential contest (499 total votes cast): Joe Biden 38.3%, Kamala Harris 17.8%, Beto O’Rourke 16%, Amy Klobuchar 9%, Elizabeth Warren 8%, Bernie Sanders 6.2%, Cory Booker 2.4%, John Hickenlooper 2.3%.
Rep. Gerry Connolly announces straw poll results
Fairfax County Board Chair Sharon Bulova introduces elected officials and candidates (note: I probably missed a few): Del. Hala Ayala, Del. David Bulova, Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, Del. Elizabeth Guzman, Del. Kaye Kory, Del. Alfonso Lopez, Del. Marcus Simon, Del. Kathy Tran, Sen. George Barker, Sen. Dick Saslaw, Del. Mark Sickles, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (Dranesville District), Fairfax County Supervisor (Lee District) Jeff McKay, Fairfax County Supervisor (Sully District) Kathy Smith, Fairfax County Supervisor (Mt. Vernon District) Dan Storck, Fairfax County Supervisor (Dranesville District) John Foust; Fairfax County School Board members Karen Corbett Sanders, Sandy Evans, Karen Keys Gamarra, Ilryong Moon, Jane Strauss, Dalia Palchik and Megan McLaughlin; Commonwealth Attorney Ray Morrogh; Sheriff Stacy Kincaid; Prince William County School Board member Lillie Jessie; Commonwealth Attorney candidate Steve Descano; Braddock District Supervisor candidate James Walkinshaw; Hunter Mill District Supervisor candidate Shyamali Hauth; Hunter Mill District Supervisor candidate Lori Dodd; Hunter Mill District Supervisor candidate Walter Alcorn; Lee District Supervisor candidate James Migliaccio; Lee District Supervisor candidate Rodney Lusk; Lee District Supervisor candidate Laryssa Kautz; Lee District Supervisor candidate Kelly Hebron; Providence District Supervisor Candidate Erika Yalowitz; Providence District Supervisor Candidate Edythe Kelleher; Providence District Supervisor Candidate Phillip Niedzielski Eichner; Fairfax County School Board (At-Large) candidate Rachna Sizemore Heizer; Hunter Mill District School Board candidate Melanie Meren; Dranesville District School Board candidate Elaine Tholen; Mason District School Board candidate Ricardy Anderson; Providence District School Board candidates Jung Byun and Karl Frisch; Springfield District School Board candidates Robert Walter and Laura Jane Cohen; Sully District School Board candidate Stella Pekarsky; Prince William County Board Chair candidate Ann Wheeler; Brentsville District (Prince William County) candidate Maggie Hansford; Occoquan District (Prince William County) candidate Kenny Boddye; Neabsco District (Prince William County) candidate Victor Angry; Woodbridge District (Prince William County) candidate Margaret Franklin; Prince William County Sheriff candidate Josh King; Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney candidate Amy Ashworth.
Photos courtesy of Del. Alfonso Lopez (With Delegates Ayala and Guzman, Neabsco District Supervisor Democratic nominee Victor Angry, Del. Bulova, etc.)