‘The right man won’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 4, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Before the 2004 presidential election was even close to resolution, Cherish Pearce had a pretty good idea that President Bush was going to win re-election.

Not just because she lives in Virginia, which hasn’t been carried by a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson won over Barry Goldwater in 1964. Not just because she works in Suffolk, which handed the president a resounding 17,280 votes – or 59 percent of the city’s total.

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But also because during virtually her entire shift Tuesday at Baron’s restaurant on Main Street, Pearce waited on people wearing &uot;I Voted&uot; stickers, many of whom were clamoring for the Republican.

&uot;A lot of people just weren’t ready for a change,&uot; Pearce said Wednesday during a break at the eatery, as television sets blared the news of John Kerry’s concession speech.

&uot;I thought that it would be really close, but I overheard a lot of people talking about voting for Bush.&uot;

Across Suffolk, many reasons echoed as to why.

&uot;I think he’s doing a pretty good job,&uot; said Bill Springer, finishing up some construction outside Suntrust Bank.

&uot;All things considered that have come up over the past four years, I think he’s done really well. To think about what happened at the World Trade Center, and then to turn the economy around in a year, a year and a half, is really good,&uot; he added. &uot;I was surprised that he didn’t get more votes than he did.&uot;

&uot;The right man won!&uot; said Butch Lawrence, holding up Springer’s ladder. &uot;Bush is going to get the job done and finish what he’s doing.

&uot;Of everything I saw, Kerry was too flip-flopping on things. People would ask him what he had planned, and he’d say, ‘I have a plan!’ but he didn’t say what his plan was.&uot;

At Elevare Print Shop, Tony Haywood was glad that Kerry conceded quickly, rather than drag out the appeals like Al Gore did in 2000.

&uot;It was gallant of him,&uot; Haywood said. &uot;He had the overall picture of the nation involved.

&uot;He saw that for the sake of the nation, obviously the facts pointed to him not winning, and it wasn’t worth going through the process like last time.&uot;

The Florida debacle was still fresh in the minds of voters, even this far north.

&uot;I figured that it would be a fiasco like last time,&uot; said Ed McKinney of the Forest Glen precinct, &uot;but it turned out real good. Everything went so smooth; there wasn’t a lot of fraudulent voting.

&uot;I knew it would be close, but I had it in mind Bush would win. Of course, he’s made mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes, and he still has the support of the people.&uot;

As the campaigns took over the national spotlight over the past few months, many of Suffolk’s youngest generations became more interested in their country’s future. A cheerleading coach at Lakeland, Erin Lawrence watched it all happen.

&uot;It was as competitive as last time,&uot; she said, &uot;just because there was so much publicity and awareness for people to come out and vote, and more and more younger people were involved.&uot;

Up until a few months ago, Brandy Stickels admits, she wasn’t quite into the races. Then she and some of her Lakeland classmates started talking about the debates.

&uot;I didn’t really care at first,&uot; said the 14-year-old, &uot;but then we started having debates about which candidate should win, and I got into a few arguments.

&uot;I like Bush, because I thought he made a good decision to go to Iraq. I watched some of the election on television, and I’ve never done that before.&uot;