Exclusive: Manassas, low voter turnout in Woodbridge give Sheriff Hill another win

Prince William County Sheriff's race Nov. 5, 2019 General Election results in the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park. [Election Data Services, Inc]

Glen Hill clinched a fifth term as Prince William County’s sheriff, forcing a concession from his opponent.

On Election night Tuesday, Nov. 5, it had appeared Hill had lost the election to Josh King, a Democrat who won Prince William County by a half-point in the polls.

  • King also won the independent city of Manassas Park. But it was Manassas City that gave Hill the edge he needed to beat King, as he won the city by nearly 17 points.
  • “There was a strong Republican vote in the northern part of the city of Manassas, and that is why Hill won the contest,” said Kimball Brace, CEO of Election Data Services, Inc., which maps election results for jurisdictions across the U.S.

The Prince William sheriff serves Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park, and voters traditionally elect the sheriff every four years in November.

  • More than just voters on Election Day, Hill also did will with absentee voters in Manassas — those who cast their ballots ahead of Election Day.
[Election Data Services, Inc.]

Hill’s victory bucks a voting trend in Manassas City politics.

  • In recent years, the city moved its City Council Elections from the first Tuesday in May (a practice that dated back to the 19th century) to November, and more Democrats have been elected to city offices in what used to be a Republican stronghold.
  • Hill is the only Republican to win in Manassas in the 2019 General Election.
  • “I’ve found that people usually vote for the most qualified person,” Hill told me. “At least that’s the way it used to be.”
  • Now, partisan politics have made their way into local elections and more voters are choosing to vote along party lines, said Hill.

During the campaign, he often criticized King, a Fairfax County sheriff’s deputy, for not having enough experience to lead a sheriff’s office the size of Prince William’s.

  • At a debate hosted by the Prince William Committee of 100, King spent more time talking about the need to more adequately fund county schools than he did enforce local laws.

Hill, who’s been sheriff since 2003, and has worked in law enforcement in Manassas since the late 1960s, would not say if this will be his last term in office.

  • He said he will need to better job of communicating with the public about the job he’s doing as sheriff in order to of improving his chances of winning re-election again in four years.
Voter turnout in Prince William County during the Nov. 5, 2019 General Election. [Election Data Services, Inc.]

King won the majority of Prince William County’s reliably blue precincts in Woodbridge, Dumfries, Dale City, and Lake Ridge.

  • But low voter turnout in these precincts hurt King, said Brace.
  • Where precincts like Brentsville, Gainesville, and Coles in middle and western Prince William saw big voter turnout, with some numbers as high as 46% (huge for an off-off-year election like this one), precincts along the Route 1 corridor saw voter turnout hover in the mid 20% range.
  • “While [the Route 1 corridor is] very Democratic — it is highly African American and highly Hispanic in that neck of that woods — they don’t turn out. While it’s the area of strength for Democrats, it’s the area of concern for Democrats…” Brace told me.

Eastern Prince William is also the land of uncontested races.

  • Two Virginia State Senate seats — the 29th and 36th districts held by Democrats Jeremy McPike and Scott Surovell, respectively — and the Woodbridge District Supervisors seat on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors were all unopposed.

Back in the sheriff’s race, third-party candidate Rhonda Dickson also had an effect on the race, said Brace. She effectively siphoned votes from would-be King voters, especially in the Woodbridge and Occoquan precincts.

  • “That caused him to lose the contest and for Hill to win,” he said.
Map showing results for independent Prince William County Sheriff candidate Rhonda Dickson. [Election Data Services, Inc.]

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