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2 Area GOP Primaries Loom, Spirited Campaigns in Each

With less than two weeks to go until contested GOP primary races culminate in elections on June 8 in both the 8th and 11th Congressional Districts in Northern Virginia, four Republican candidates are campaigning feverishly, those in the 11th with a credible shot at winning in November, and those in the 8th trying to improve their party’s chances in a district dominated by Rep. Jim Moran for 20 years.

Meanwhile, neither Moran nor 11th District incumbent Democratic congressman Gerry Connolly face primary challenges, and are focusing their re-election bids on the general election in November.

While only one of the four GOP contenders has announced on his website that he will be attending the Memorial Day Parade and Festival in the City of Falls Church, all may be taking advantage of the 10-15,000 thousand from all over the region who will be in attendance there, and a booth hosted by the local Falls Church GOP committee will be their staging ground.

In the 11th District GOP primary, where the winner could stand a good shot at upending freshman Dem Connolly in the anti-incumbent mood that was reflected in races elsewhere last week, businessman Keith Fimian and Fairfax County Board member Patrick “Pat” Herrity are locked in a very heated struggle. The 11th District covers the eastern half of Fairfax County, including the Mason, Dranesville and Providence Districts that come right up to the doorsteps of Falls Church and Arlington.

Fimian was the GOP’s choice to run for the seat in 2008 after Incumbent GOP Rep. Tom Davis announced he was not seeking re-election. Fimian fell in an election few thought Connolly, running on President Obama’s coattails, could lose.

Not to be deterred, only two months after that election Fimian announced he’d take another crack at Connolly this year. The founder and owner of the nation’s largest home inspection company, captain of the football team at William and Mary, and endorsed by GOP rising Congressional star Eric Cantor and arch-conservative State Del. Bob Marshall, Fimian was the only candidate in the running for a full year.

But this January, Herrity injected himself into the race, a move that angered many conservatives in the county who were working to build momentum behind Fimian.

Herrity, son of the late Jack Herrity, former chair of the Fairfax County Board, graduate of Virginia Tech and certified public accountant, was elected to the County Board from his home in the Springfield District in 2007, and then was unsuccessful in a race to replace Connolly as chair of the County Board in February 2009.

Herrity comes into the race with endorsements from many powerful GOP leaders in the county, including State Delegates Dave Albo, Tim Hugo and Barbara Comstock, and former Del. Vince Callahan.

But by serving on a County Board that was forced to make many very difficult budget decisions this spring, Herrity is himself a victim of the current revolt against incumbency, and Fimian enjoys the support of the Tea Party Movement, which has targeted the 11th District as one of a select few in the nation where it thinks a mobilization of its efforts can reclaim the district for the GOP.

Herrity supporters are assailed as “Herritics” by conservative bloggers and others.

By contrast to the 11th, the 8th District, which includes Arlington, Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and critical portions of eastern Fairfax County, will not be targeted for victory either by the Tea Party Movement or the Republican National Congressional Campaign Committee.

That’s because of Moran’s dominance as a 10-term veteran and the progressive values he shares with the vast majority of residents of the district. In years past, Moran has faced some primary opposition within his own party, but that has melted away in the past two election cycles.

Still, two GOP candidates are duking it out for the right to represent their party on the ballot in November, where they will also face a third-party Green candidate.

Matthew Berry and Patrick Murray are the GOP contenders in the 8th, and they’ve gone head-to-head in numerous recent debates, including ones in Pentagon City last week, at the 8th District GOP convention in Alexandria last Saturday, and in the Ballston section of Arlington this Tuesday. Berry defeated Murray in a straw poll at the GOP confab last Saturday by a 90-41 margin.

The positions of all the candidates are detailed on each of their websites, which can readily be “Googled.”

But in their professional and personal lives, Berry and Murray are markedly different. Murray is a retired U.S. Army colonel, with 24 years of active service, a resident of Alexandria raised by a single mom in Oklahoma.

Berry is a graduate of Yale Law School and clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, worked at the U.S. Department of Justice and now has a private law practice.

Berry is openly gay. On his campaign website, he proclaims that he lives with “my partner Josh.” He has served on the Arlington County Human Rights Commission.