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Dem Voters Speak Out in NoVa

Post reporters are finding some strong opinions among the divided Democratic electorate in Virginia.
In Loudoun County, one couple told Jonathan Mummolo why they voted for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

Scott Sammler Michael, 45, a minister, said that he had been a fan of former North Carolina senator John Edwards but that Obama won him over. "I'm really excited about how much hope he seems to inspire in people."

Of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), he said he's wary of having a chain of Bushes and Clintons in the White House for more than 20 years. "I don't like the dynastic thing," he said.

Anya Sammler Michael, 31, described herself as an independent-leaning Democrat who voted for Obama "with a nod to racial justice. I appreciated the fact there's a chance we may be electing a president who is not white." The couple are white.

At Marsteller Middle School in western Prince William County, several voters at the polling station told reporter Kristen Mack they chose Clinton over Obama.

"I voted for Clinton because I remember when she was first lady, she tried to get insurance for single mothers like me," said Francisca Muñoz, 68, of Bristow. "Obama is a good speaker, and he's charismatic, but there's no substance to him."

On Obama, she said: "I don't want him to come in and experiment on us."

On Clinton, she referred to her husband--the former president--and his troubles and accomplishments in office. "She'll have Bill," Muñoz said, "And even though he couldn't keep his pants zipped, no one died in a war, he balanced the budget and left us with a surplus."

At J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fairfax County, Debbie Ratliff, 41, of Falls Church, told reporter Michael Alison Chandler she voted for Obama. "I agree with the whole platform and I feel he has the potential to be a unifying force at a difficult time," Ratliff said.
One of her neighbors, Heidi Johannesen, 33, said she also voted for Obama even though she has voted for Republicans in the past, including the incumbent president. "I'm just looking for change," Johannesen said. "I voted for Bush, and the time has come. We are in desperate need of something different."

Erin Getsy, 32, of Purcellville, a self-described independent, took her 1-year-old, Claire, to the polls as she voted for Obama. "I don't want another Clinton in the White House," she told Mummolo. "Bill, he did a great job in the White House, but he had eight years. I think he'd be very influential on Hillary. I don't really think we need a team. We need one president."

At Battlefield High School in Prince William, Judi DeMichele told Mack she is an independent who normally doesn't vote in primaries.
"This is special. It's historic and I wanted to be a part of that," said DeMichele, 63, who lives in Haymarket and voted for Clinton. "She's experienced and I go for experience in my doctors, my vets and my politicians."

At the Chinquapin Recreation Center in Alexandria, Rachelle Thompson, 37, told reporter Brigid Schulte she came to the polls unsure how she'd vote. "I'm an African American and a woman and a conservative. I came here today intending to vote for (former Arkansas governor Mike) Huckabee, and I ended up voting for Obama," Thompson said. "It was a game-time decision."

Thompson said it was neither race nor gender that moved her to vote for Obama. It was all about the issues, she said. "I've read his entire healthcare plan and I agree that healthcare, while it shouldn't be mandated, should be affordable," she said.

Reggie Baker, 44, of Leesburg, said he voted for Obama because he sees him as a uniter and was turned off by the Clinton campaign's strategy in South Carolina, which he called a "tactic of divide and conquer."
"It reminded me of everything I don't like about politics," he said. "It reinforced the fact that we need someone who can go in there and workwith people to get things done."
Baker, a Navy officer who is African American, said race should not be a factor in this election, and that pundits over-emphasize its importance.
"This is not about race, it's about the person," he said. "This election speaks well of our country. [The pundits] see us through glasses that are 20 years old."
Becky Osborne, 45, a computer programmer from Leesburg, saw things differently.
"I think she's definitely got some experience," she said in explaining her vote for Clinton. "Come back to me in eight years. Then I mght vote for" Obama, she said.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 12, 2008; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2008/President  
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