Former Stafford County Supervisor Paul Milde edged incumbent Del. Bob Thomas in a rematch Tuesday to earn the Republican nomination for the 28th District House seat representing parts of Stafford County and Fredericksburg.

Complete but unofficial returns show Milde winning 2,974 to 2,831 over Thomas, who beat Milde in the 2017 primary to succeed retiring House Speaker Bill Howell.

“We’re happy, of course, ecstatic, and proud of the hard work that our team put in. We knocked on really a record number of doors,” Milde said Tuesday night. “I’d say, most importantly, I’m heartened that the voters of Fredericksburg rejected the politics of personal destruction and I’m looking forward to a clean campaign in November against Josh Cole.”

Cole, who narrowly lost to Thomas in the 2017 general election, was unopposed for the Democratic nomination this year in the district representing parts of Stafford County and Fredericksburg.

“I can say I’m a little surprised,” Cole said of Milde’s victory. “I don’t think that will change our strategy. We’ve always planned to give it our all and go in expecting to win. This only causes us to amplify our messaging and push even harder.”

The 28th District is considered a key general election race in determining control of the General Assembly, where Republicans now hold a two-seat advantage.

“With it being an off-year election, we are expecting numbers to be low—but we know this is a pivotal time for our commonwealth, so we’re going to give it everything that we’ve got and we’re going to keep fighting, fight him all the way to Nov. 5,” Cole added.

In an interview from his victory party at Paradise Diner in southern Stafford, Milde emphasized his campaign’s platform of opposing abortion and the Affordable Care Act and supporting gun rights and lower taxes.

“What this election shows is the people of Virginia want conservative policies that make government work,” he said. “The big government agenda of Ralph Northam and his liberal allies are the losers tonight. We don’t need more government programs that fail to deliver.”

Both Milde and Thomas traded sharp attacks in their primary battle, but Milde said he hopes his opponent will support him in November.

“He’s already called and has texted me some nice words,” Milde said. “I’ve seen him more than once tell me that he would support the nominee, and I hope that he will. I supported him last time he beat me. I don’t hold grudges. That’s not my style.”

Milde previously served on Stafford’s Board of Supervisors, representing the Aquia District from 2006 to 2017. He also served on the Virginia Railway Express board and was also a three-time chairman of the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

For now, Milde said he’s going to take a few days off.

“We’ve been campaigning nonstop,” he said. “We started campaigning a long time ago. I just thank God.”

In the other Fredericksburg area House of Delegates primary, Fauquier County attorney Jessica Foster defeated Kecia Evans of Stafford County to win the Democratic nomination for the 88th District seat. Unofficial results showed Foster garnered 2,003 votes to 699 for Evans in the district, which covers parts of Fauquier, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties and part of Fredericksburg.

Foster will face Republican Del. Mark Cole, who is seeking his 10th two-year term representing the district. He faced no opponent in the primaries.

“I think my chances are good,” Foster said Tuesday night. “I think that I can work really, really hard to change some minds. I think that the people of this district are ready for some change.“

Staff writer Hailey Bullis contributed to this report.

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James Scott Baron: 540/374-5438 jbaron@freelancestar.com

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