A three-judge panel rendered summary judgment yesterday (12/27/07) in the contested election between Independent Patricia Mancini and Republican Price Jett Jr., dismissing Junior's complaint and assessing him court costs.
It was a historic case, as no write-in candidate had ever contested an election result in the Commonwealth. Mrs. Mancini's attorneys, Maya Eckstein and Chip Wright of Hunton & Williams presented an air-tight, bullet-proof case that the panel unanimously agreed with. Mr. Jett's attorney, former Assistant Attorney General William Hurd of Troutman Sanders, found his tattered sails gathered no wind and no amount of lipstick could dress up the pig that was Jett's case.
Already the Republicans are in spin cycle, claiming that the judges awarded Junior votes and expressing perplexity at how different precincts could be accorded different vote counting methods. It is all hogwash.
First, the Contest Court can neither award nor subtract votes from any candidate. Presiding Judge Harry Taliaferro said "Even if" Jett were awarded the votes he claimed due to alleged "malfunctions" in voting equipment at two precincts, he still would get get the votes he needed to alter the outcome.
Second, Jett's primary argument, that voting machines "malfunctioned" and "paper ballots" were "hand-counted" was summarily dismissed by the panel. ALL precincts counted votes in exactly the same manner. There were no differences.
Jett receives NOTHING from this. No votes. No recognition of his allegations. Nothing, except a bill for court costs (alas, not attorney's fees!).
The Jett lawsuit was funded and backed by House of Delegates Speaker Bill Howell and Jett was funded during his campaign by the VA-01 and Stafford County GOP. He had the benefit of Republican media, Republican volunteers, and Republican elected officials during his campaign, on Election Day, and during the legal aftermath.
This is a victory for democracy in a Republican machine-controlled stronghold. They tried to intimidate a citizen candidate who ran as an Independent to serve the public interest. They brought their full weight and power to bear on Mrs. Mancini. Her victory is a complete vindication.
State Senator Creigh Deeds will headline a Victory Party/Fundraiser for Mrs. Mancini on Sunday, December 30. Senator Deeds leaps ahead of other Democratic candidates for the 2009 Governor's race with this shrewd and timely defense of democracy in Stafford County.
For more coverage, please check out the excellent blog, http://www.fred2blue.com.