41st Rep. Race
Nasty, Bitter Campaign
SC Online Publisher
Photo: Charlie West and Bradley Layfield, campaign manager for Scott Evans, engage in a spirited debate in front of the Sussex County Courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2000.
In the county's most negative, rancorous campaign, incumbent Charlie West trounced challenger Scott Evans for the 41st District seat in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2000.
West won the race with 4,609 votes, or 60.1 percent, to 3,055 votes, or 39.9 percent for Evans.
Both men said they wished the campaign hadn't turned so nasty in what turned into an embarrassing political display that included a battle of anonymous Internet forum postings and verbal confrontations between the two sides.
West blamed the Evans camp for the nasty tone, while Evans felt West supporters over-reacted to their reporting of West's vote against a bill to ban partial birth abortions in 1997.
West said he didn't vote for the bill not because he wasn't against partial birth abortions but because he felt the bill was unconstitutional and wouldn't survive court challenges.
After winning, West, while not outright saying he would refuse to take the traditional carriage ride with Evans during Thursday's Return Day parade, indicated that he wasn't particularly interested in riding with Evans in an interview on WGMD FM.
"It's been a mighty negative campaign," said West outside the Sussex County Courthouse earlier Tuesday. "I don't run a negative campaign."
West, a 79-year-old Democrat from Gumboro, said he would work to improve education during his next term and said he would ask to be appointed to the House's Education Committee, an appointment he has long wanted.
"I'd like to be able to work with teachers, school administrators, to try to make the (education accountability) bill that we have so it will be workable so the kids can all have a better education in the end," he said.
West said he ran again because he had some projects he wanted to finish work on and cited education, roads, the environment, agriculture, and quality of life as the most important issues to his constituents.
Evans, a 51-year-old Republican from Dagsboro, said he felt that his campaign had been able to point out West's vote on House Bill 211, the bill to ban partial birth abortion in the state that created the campaign's nasty tenor.
"I have no hard feelings," Evans said. "I have no hard feelings with anybody. We tried to keep it as positive as we could. If I hadn't of ran, we knew that point wouldn't have been brought out. Anybody that runs for an office, especially somebody that's an incumbent, usually the only time anyone finds out about their record is when somebody runs against them. At least people know of the (West's) voting record (on House Bill 211)."
Evans also cited education, raising the parents' right to know age limit from 16 to 18, employment, land use and public safety as critical issues for the 41st District.
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