Clemons squeaks through in House District 21

Virginia

Southeast / Virginia 14 Views

Republican Chuck Clemons successfully defended his seat in the state House Tuesday by a slim margin over Democrat Jason Haeseler.

Clemons, R-Newberry, earned 51.6 percent of the district vote, taking Dixie and Gilchrist counties by a large margin. The district also represents western Alachua County.

"I'm relieved," Clemons said. "We had a very hard-fought campaign ... I’m just thankful that I’ll get to go back to Tallahassee and represent my home and represent our community."

In Alachua County, Haeseler took a strong lead, earning 55 percent of the vote. However, Clemons made that up in Dixie and Gilchrist counties.

Clemons received 84 percent in Dixie County, earning more than 4,800 votes. In Gilchrist, he also got 84 percent of the vote with more than 6,100 votes.

“We expected that,” Haeseler said of the district turnout. “The differences between Dixie, Gilchrist, Alachua are profound. We hoped we would do a little better in those counties. Clearly we didn't spend enough time in those counties and it showed.”

Haeseler said he’s proud of the work his team has done.

“We ran a clean race and tried to focus on the issues important to people,” he said. “It’s hard to overcome the money gap. We were outspent ... and yet we did as well as we did. I think that says a lot.”

Clemons said he thinks his platform resonated more with people outside Alachua County, but still says he performed better than most Republican candidates.

Clemons also was responsible for a referendum on the ballot that could have altered the governance structure of Gainesville Regional Utilities. The referendum, however, was voted down. Clemons said he's OK with that result but isn't happy that about 30 percent of the utility's customers live in the county's unincorporated area and have no say in how the utility is run.

"The citizens of Gainesville spoke, so they'll maintain the same governance structure that they chose," he said.

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