Introducing the 2017 VPAP Primary Pundit

When he heard he’d won VPAP’s Primary Prediction contest, Jay Gilliam was pleased and surprised.  Then he went back out to weed the grass at his rural cottage.

Gilliam, 65, lives in Raphine, a crossroads in Rockbridge County.

“I really do not consider myself a pundit,” Gilliam said. “The only reason I know what I know is that I have time to read VaNews most days.”

His casual knowledge of political news helped Gilliam best 857 contestants to be crowned VPAP’s 2017 Primary Pundit.

Most entrants had no problem correctly guessing the statewide winners:

  • 93.8% chose Ed Gillespie
  • 67.8% chose Jill Vogel
  • 69.2% chose Ralph Northam
  • 76.4% chose Justin Fairfax

The House primaries were more troublesome. The race that tripped up most contestants was in House District 13: a 4-way race among Democrats, including Danica Roem, the first transgender person to win a Virginia primary.

“I know almost nothing about the HD 13 race,” said Gilliam. “But I picked Ms. Roem because, when in doubt, I always go for the female candidate.”

Gilliam was one of five contestants to correctly predict all 8 winning candidates. In the tiebreaker, he was the only finalist who forecast the two parties combined would cast more than 550,000 votes.

“I was guessing hopefully,” he said. 

Gilliam considers himself a political neophyte, even though he’s he’s one of the longest-serving elected officials in the Shenandoah Valley. He’s won five straight terms to the Board of Directors of the Natural Bridge Soil and Water Conservation District.

“The only elected position in Virginia that pays nothing,” he quipped.

Previously, he was the statewide coordinator of the Virginia Save Our Streams program. Before that, he was a self-employed landscape gardener.

Gilliam called his win “pure luck.” Others may note that he’s a graduate of the Sorensen Institute -- along with the last two Pundit winners -- fueling conspiracies of domination by the Charlottesville-based cabal.

Born and raised in Rockbridge County as the son of a VMI professor, Gilliam describes himself as Democrat who sometimes supports Republicans.

He raises chickens, ducks, guineas and peafowl. (Take that, city-slicker millennials who have won the past three years).


June 15, 2017