He dropped out of his Virginia Beach City Council race – and still got nearly 16,000 votes

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — One of the big stories you may have missed in last week’s elections was in the race for Virginia Beach City Council.

The guy didn’t win, and he had pulled out of the race.

His name is John Coker, and he is the recipient of an extraordinary event. 

Even though he had pulled out of the race a month before the election.

Even though there were signs posted in all the voting booths in all 100 precincts on Election Day.

And though he had endorsed another candidate, he still got about 16,000 votes, and he thinks it swayed the election for the man who won, David Nygaard.

“What I did, I think made David Nygaard our new councilman,” Coker said.

Coker is a senior business analyst at Anthem Insurance. “I was floored. I was floored. 16,000 votes, and if I had been there in it until the end, would have been [32,000] at least.”

He says after the election, “about 200 people contacted me. They sent texts. Several neighbors said I saw the sign, and I am voting for you anyways to show you must run next time.”

He ran social media commercials online. “Team Coker out here wrapping up another day of knocking on doors, and meeting some really good people out here,” he said in a Facebook Live clip online.

Coker ran because he wanted change to vote out Councilman John Uhrin, “I did not believe he was representing all of Virginia Beach. I believe he was just representing special interests down at the beach, and I think that needed to change.”

His commercial on social media talked about establishment, “We need to know if the good old boys played shenanigans with the city pension fund.”

His campaign was in full force, and then on October 6, one month before the election, he pulls out of the race. “It’s more important we win than I win.” 

He wanted a pledge from other candidates, RK Kowalewitch and David Nygaard, that whoever was behind would get out of the race to better secure victory over Uhrin. 

They both said no, so, “I decided to be the big man, and I stepped out, and I believe I was vindicated with David Nygaard’s victory,” Coker said. 

His name was still on the ballot, but notices were put in all voting booths that Coker isn’t running anymore. And yet, 15,911 votes.

Those votes credited in part to Jimmy Frost, who designed his social media commercials. Coker says in one of them, “We want our city to be equal and fair for everyone. Vote for me, John Coker, on Nov 6, and take back our city.” Frost adds, “Communicating a simple thought and a message, and it is just messaging, messaging, messaging.”

Coker says that at the city level, nice played well in the election, not negative. 

“What we can do to move forward and not why am I better than him. It’s not that I am not as bad as the guy who is there now. It’s how can we improve Virginia Beach and improve our lives.”

Will Coker run again? 

“I won’t rule it out,” he says with a smile. You get the feeling he absolutely will run again and build on that 16,000 votes when he wasn’t even running anymore. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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