Republican Brian Pettyjohn needed just 37 days to storm ahead to a victory in the District 19 State Senate on Tuesday.
The former Georgetown mayor filed as a write-in candidate in the race on Oct. 1, but it was less than a week ago that he was added to the ballot as the official GOP candidate in the wake of former Republican candidate Eric Bodenweiser arrest on charges of child sex abuse.
Yet Pettyjohn managed to garner 9,817 votes, or 59.8 percent of the total, to upset Democrat and fellow Georgetown resident Jane Hovington, who earned 6,605 votes, or 40.2 percent.
“It’s surreal; it’s been a crazy, wild ride over the last 30-some days,” Pettyjohn said after the final votes were counted. “I’ve got a great team of people that really believe in me. I’ve been able to spread the word and it’s amazing.”
Pettyjohn credited the win to the strength of his message and the efforts of his campaign team to get that message out to the public.
“People want state government out of their lives,” he said. “They want businesses to be able to grow and perform. I come from a farm family and know what they go through. I work in the business world and know the obstacles businesses are facing, so I’ve got a good understanding of the issues out there and the people know that.”
Pettyjohn will succeed incumbent state Sen. Joe Booth, who lost the Republican primary to Bodenweiser.
Bodenweiser withdrew from the race last month, just days before being charged with sexually abusing a boy between 1997 and 2000.
Hovington said she was disappointed by the outcome but remained upbeat about the future.
“It is what it is,” she said. “I’m not going to get depressed or spend time crying about it. The people voted and that was their choice. We’ll just keep moving on until the next time.”
Hovington said she would not rule out running for office again.
“I’ll put it this way, if I do run again the experience I gained in this race will ensure I win the next one,” she said. “Right now, I just want to say to all the volunteers who came forth and all the people who worked hard for me, I thank the lord for them.”
Pettyjohn said his immediate goal following his surprising election victory is to get to Disney World with his family.
“Yes, I’m going to Disney,” he said. “Actually, it’s something we’ve had planned for a long time. But after that I’ll be talking to the various state department heads and letting them know what people have been telling me about what their frustrations are.”