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No Sign Yet of GOP Challenges to Dems in 2011 F.C. Area Elections

With less than a month to go before the June 15 filing deadline, Republican challengers remain few and far between, at best, to take on Democratic incumbents in and around Falls Church in November’s state legislative elections.

The Fairfax GOP web site lists no names of prospective candidates to take on State Delegates Jim Scott in the 53rd District or Kay Kory in the 38th. Nor are there names yet publicized to challenge Falls Church’s new State Senator Dick Saslaw or Fairfax District Supervisor Penny Gross, representing the Mason District of Greater Falls Church.

While Gross confirmed to the News-Press this week that she’s heard rumors about potential opposition, Scott, speaking at a joint luncheon of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce and Merrifield Business Association, said he’s picked up no news about a challenger.

It is granted that none of the aforementioned offices has faced a serious run from a GOP contender in 20 years, since Scott first won by a single vote in 1991, and most feel that the Democratic Party’s hand was strengthened in this area by the U.S. Census-based redistricting that was just completed, with Gov. Bob McDonnell’s OK, in Richmond.

Statewide, Scott was pessimistic about the ability of Democrats to win statewide control of the House of Delegates, where with only 39 members now, they are 12 short of a 51-vote majority. He said the party’s emphasis in this year’s elections will be to hold onto the tenuous 22-18 majority it now holds in the State Senate.

However, he noted that the grip on the state legislative process emanating from the southern parts of Virginia was hurt by the redistricting, with the biggest population growth adding new legislative districts in Prince William and Loudoun counties, and taking them away from population-stagnant points south.

But with the Virginia GOP also keying in on the State Senate, it will be banking its hopes on perceived winnable districts, rather than Democratic strongholds, which is what characterizes the areas of Northern Virginia in and around Falls Church.

Still, it will be to nearby Great Falls that Republican Gov. McDonnell will be coming for a pricey fundraiser on June 6. Area GOP heavyweights like former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis and State Delegates David Albo and Barbara Comstock are on the host committee are on the host committee for that event.

Last night, the Fairfax GOP was slated to hold its monthly meeting at a sports bar in greater Falls Church where candidates for the 37th and 39th state delegate districts were due to appear, but no one from the 53rd of 38th.

Meanwhile, area Democrats are pushing ahead with their election plans.

Sharon Bulova held a campaign kickoff event Sunday in her bid for re-election as chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She was introduced by likely 2013 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, a long-time resident of Fairfax County, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly and her board vice-chair, Penny Gross.

It is often overlooked that Bulova’s post represents more people than anyone else in the region, at over one million Fairfax County residents, it covers more than any congressional or legislative district. She is expected another vigorous challenge from the GOP, as she barely defeated the GOP’s Pat Herrity by a single percentage point in the special election that put her in the job in 2009. That election became necessary when Connolly was elected to the U.S. Congress.

Herrity kicked off his re-election for the County Board in March, but not to compete for the chairman’s seat.

State Del. Kay Kory, who was elected as a newcomer to represent the 38th District in 2009, has slated her campaign kickoff for June 3, still short of an announced opponent.

Mason District Supervisor Gross said she’s ready to take on all comers, having won against an aggressive GOP challenge four years ago with 63 percent of the vote.

State Del. Scott was gathering petition signatures to get his name back on the ballot at Tuesday’s F.C. Chamber-Merrifield luncheon, where he reported on the nearly-completed 2011 legislative session. Only the final boundaries for the U.S. Congressional districts awaits final completion.

Scott said he needed 120 petition signatures by the June 15 filing deadline. Were any of the races to require party primaries prior to November, they would be held in late August.
Leaders of neither party are particularly pleased with the outcome of the redistricting process. Scott was among the early protesters of the decision by State Sen. Saslaw, the Senate majority leader, to permit the majority party of each house to dictate the redistricting process for their respective legislative bodies.

This approach was taken to address the more pressing priority in Democratic leadership minds of maintaining control of the Senate, conceding GOP control of the House of Delegates. The the GOP-led redistricting of the House of Delegates has apparently left Scott, Kory and other Democratic legislators in the Falls Church area with solid Democratic majorities, it has made it easier for Republicans statewide to retain their wide majority, overall, in the House.

Still, while Scott was grumbling on the Democratic side, Fairfax County Republican Committee chair Anthony Bedell wrote an opinion piece slamming Democratic State Sen. Janet Howell for her role in redrawing the State Senate lines in the county to, according to Bedell, protect her control of her district from what was expected to be a vigorous GOP challenge.
With her influential role as chair of the Senate committee leading the redistricting process, Bedell accused her of redrawing her district “over 20 miles long but barely a mile wide in places” to protect her incumbency.

Still, given the “deal” cut between the two parties on redistricting, the final plan was approved by the GOP Gov. McDonnell.