U.Va. Sorensen Alums Clean Up in State's Elections

November 06, 2009

November 6, 2009 — The University of Virginia's Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership offers two political training programs to those interested in becoming more active in public service in Virginia – be they Republicans, Democrats or independents.

In the wake of Tuesday's elections, it's clear that the programs are working.

Twenty-seven of the 49 Sorensen graduates on state ballots won their elections, based upon unofficial results. The winners included 10 Republicans, 14 Democrats and three independents. Five were elected to the General Assembly, including four graduates of this year's Candidate Training Program.

"We are looking at the potential for a pending canvass and possibly even a recount in two House of Delegates races involving alumni," said Sorensen Institute director Bob Gibson. "But for now, it looks like we have 27 alumni victories in election 2009."

A total of 23 Sorensen graduates have now been elected to the Virginia General Assembly since the institute's founding in 1993.

"Assuming the potential recounts don't change any results, 18 Sorensen graduates would serve in the General Assembly when it convenes in January 2010," Gibson said. "Nine Democrats and seven Republicans in the House; one Democrat and one Republican in the Senate."

The Sorensen programs – the Candidate Training Program and the Political Leaders Program – offer participants a study of general ethical principles as they relate to public service, and an exploration of Virginia's conflict of interest laws and Freedom of Information Act. Participants learn about a variety of public policy issues facing state and local government, including budget, transportation, education, health care, economic development, the environment, crime and public safety. They are also introduced to the key elements of winning political and issue advocacy campaigns, including fundraising, campaign finance laws, message development, crisis management and working with the media.

The Sorensen Institute was founded by Charlottesville businessmen Leigh Middleditch and Michael Bills as the Virginia Institute of Political Leadership. The first class of Political Leaders graduated in the spring of the following year and included a future state senator, the late Emily Couric. The organization took the name of benefactor Thomas C. Sorensen in 1997 shortly before he passed away.

According to the unofficial results from the Virginia State Board of Elections, Sorensen alumni who won office in Tuesday's election were:

Robin Abbott (Candidate Training Program Spring 2009, D): House of Delegates, 93rd
Kenny Alexander (Political Leaders Program 2002, D): House of Delegates, 89th
Richard Anderson (CTP Winter 2009, R): House of Delegates, 14th District
Priscilla S. Bele (CTP 2007, D): Commissioner of Revenue, Newport News City
Connie Brennan (PLP 2005, D): Board of Supervisors, Nelson County, Central District
James Brown (CTP Spring 2009, D): Sheriff, City of Charlottesville
David L. Bulova (PLP 1997, D): House of Delegates, 37th
Steve Clinton (PLP 2000, R): Board of Supervisors, Botetourt County
John A. Cosgrove (PLP 1998, R): House of Delegates, 78th
Adam P. Ebbin (PLP 2000, D): House of Delegates, 49th
Scott Garrett (CTP 2006, R): House of Delegates, 23rd
Tag Greason (CTP Winter 2009, R): House of Delegates, 32nd
Charniele L. Herring (PLP 2006; CTP 2008, D): House of Delegates, 46th
James O. Icenhour (CTP 2005, D): Board of Supervisors, James City County, Powhatan District
Kaye Kory (CTP Winter 2009, D): House of Delegates, 38th
Lynwood W. Lewis (PLP 1995; CTP 1999; D): House of Delegates, 100th
Daniel W. Marshall (CTP 2001, R): House of Delegates, 14th
Jennifer L. McClellan (PLP 2001; CTP 2005, D): House of Delegates, 71st
Michael Mondul (Danville Leaders Program 2004, I): Sheriff, City of Danville
Joy Moore (CTP 2005, I): Treasurer, City of Colonial Heights
Gabe Morgan (CTP 2005, R): Sheriff, City of Newport News
Dave Norris (CTP 2006, D): City Council, City of Charlottesville
David A. Nutter (CTP 2001, R): House of Delegates, 7th
Christopher Peace (PLP 2004, R): House of Delegates, 97th
Mark D. Sickles (CTP 2001, D): House of Delegates, 43rd
Eric J. Strucko (PLP 1999, I): School Board Member, Albemarle County, Samuel Miller District
Rodney S. Thomas (PLP 1999, R): Board of Supervisors, Albemarle County, Rio District

This list does not include Sorensen alumni Bobby Mathieson and Margie Vanderhye, who lost House of Delegates races but may seek a canvass or recount, depending on the certified vote returns.

"The Sorensen Institute extends its thanks and congratulations to everyone who had the courage and conviction to stand for office, as well as all of our alumni who worked long hours for many months on a number of campaigns across Virginia. Democracy in Virginia is stronger because of you," Gibson said.

Visit the Sorensen Institute Web site for information.