Republican Wins Close Supervisor Race in Fairfax

Cook's victory comes despite significant hurdles.
Cook's victory comes despite significant hurdles. (Richard A. Lipski - Washington Post)
By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 12, 2009

Republican John Cook defied recent political trends in Northern Virginia by narrowly defeating Democrat Ilryong Moon in the race to fill an open seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, elections officials announced yesterday after completing a vote count delayed by a malfunctioning voting machine.

Cook captured the Braddock District seat by 89 votes out of more than 13,000 cast in Tuesday's contest, according to the official results.

"I am honored to have been selected by my Braddock District neighbors to serve as their next supervisor," Cook said a few minutes after the outcome was announced. "I look forward to bringing new and innovative ideas to the problems we face and bringing fiscal responsibility to our county government."

Cook, 45, a lawyer and president of the Kings Park Civic Association, has never held elected office but received strong support from neighbors who were familiar with his work revitalizing neighborhoods and cleaning up blighted and unkempt properties.

He succeeds Sharon Bulova (D), who last month became chairman of the board. Also in the race was independent Carey C. Campbell.

Moon, an at-large School Board member, said he will not challenge the results, despite the technical difficulties and even though the close vote allows him to request a recount under state law. Moon, an immigrant from South Korea, was trying to become the board's first Asian American member.

"Braddock District's residents need someone to represent them on the Board of Supervisors to start working on important issues such as the budget and transportation as soon as possible," Moon said in a statement. "I do not want to cause any delay."

Virginia Republicans, stung by a tide of Democratic victories, rejoiced in yesterday's news, which they said bodes well for their ability to maintain their majority in the House of Delegates and retake the governor's mansion in the fall after two successive Democratic administrations.

"The Republican Party is alive and well," Cook said.

Although Democrats have twice won races for governor and U.S. Senate, this is the third consecutive special election in which the Republican candidate exceeded expectations. Cook's win is being read as an encouraging sign by Republicans, who say pundits have misinterpreted the recent trends. Virginia is not on the cusp of becoming a blue state, they say.

Democrats, meanwhile, say it is a mistake to draw conclusions from special elections, which can be unpredictable because of low turnout.

"Obviously the party is going to want to analyze what happened and why," Bulova said. "But a special election is just a different animal from a regular election in November."

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