Only a few feet separated incumbent Del. Tom Rust (R) from his Democratic challenger Jim Kelly Tuesday afternoon as they tried to entice voters at the Herndon Community Center, but in the end the gap between the two was more than 1,365 votes with 11 of 18 precincts reporting. The unofficial results with seven polling places still to report had Rust receiving 3,493 votes and Kelly garnering 2,128.
Just a few hours before the polls were to close, both candidates were feeling confident, however, much like the first time the pair faced off for the 86th District House of Delegates seat two years ago, Rust won out.
"We were pretty confident all along. We just didn't know what the margin would be. We're pleased with our results," Rust said. "I'm looking forward to serving my constituents for another two years.
"IT WAS A PRETTY equal campaign," Kelly said while campaigning in Herndon earlier in the day. "The voters saw equal contact from us. I think it's really going to be close."
The race wasn't that close at all. Besides the ballot gap, Rust, the former mayor of Herndon, raised $173,923 to Kelly's $15,507 and out spent the Sterling resident $156,726 to $13,795, according to Virginia Public Access Project Web site.
With only four precincts reporting, Kelly received 37 percent of the votes to Rust's 61 percent and conceded the race.
"I would really expect to do better in Loudoun County, I'm not sure what the other precincts will do," Kelly said. "But with the four precincts, it is a pretty big difference. I didn't expect to be that low."
Earlier in the day, Rust said his campaign went pretty much as he had hoped.
"I did exactly what I wanted to do. I did the door knocking and I did the mailings. I had a program and I did what I thought I needed to do," Rust said. "I think if I had to do it over again, I would do a little more mailings at the end."