Virginia State Del. Jim Scott, whose 53rd District will continue, following the state legislature’s redistricting this spring, to encompass the City of Falls Church for another decade, will face no Republican opposition this November. The June 15 filing deadline passed with no GOP candidate filing.
Falls Church’s new State Senator, Sen. Dick Saslaw, on the other hand, will have a first-time challenger. Robert C. Sarvis is one of 43 elected officials and other candidates that the GOP has lined up to run for all state legislative seats, Fairfax Supervisor and School Board seats, as well as Fairfax Sheriff and Soil and Water Conservation District this year.
But it is in areas to the west of Fairfax County where the GOP hopes to make some major inroads to the current 22-18 Democratic control of the state senate, even though Democrats were in charge of the redistricting process for the state senate in Richmond.
Saslaw’s new district configuration, for example, only strengthens his position, making Sarvis’ challenge very difficult. That’s because, as the State Senate Majority Leader, Saslaw oversaw the redistricting, first hand.
The implications of these developments for voters in the City of Falls Church appear to favor those who want the City’s local municipal elections to remain being held in May, rather than moved to November.
There will be a referendum on this November’s ballot in Falls Church on this subject, and the higher the voter turnout this November, the more likely voters will cast ballots in favor of a November election date for the City’s City Council and School Board races. The lower the turnout, the more likely those who prefer a May date will prevail.
In this November’s election, therefore, Falls Church voters will not have a lot of motivation, beyond the referendum itself, to get to the polls, since Del. Scott will not be opposed, and Sen. Saslaw has crafted a new, strongly-Democratic district for himself, minimizing the chances of a serious, hotly-contested race.
Meanwhile, the 31st District of Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, which represents Falls Church until the end of this year when it moves further east, will also remain solidly Democratic, according to analysts, even though some Republican areas will be added in.
In that district, Democrats Barbara Favola, currently on the Arlington County Board and Jaime Areizaga-Soto will pair off in an Aug. 23 primary. Sen. Whipple, who is retiring and will not seek re-election in November, has endorsed Favola. On the GOP side, Caren Merrick is the sole candidate to file.
In the 34th State Del. District of neighboring McLean, GOP incumbent Barbara Comstock is expected to face a stiff challenge from Democrat Pamela B. Danner, president of the McLean Community Foundation. That district was held by a Democrat, Hon. Margi Vanderhye, before her upset defeat two years ago.
But in the 38th State Del. District, incumbent Democrat Kaye Kory has no GOP challenger.
Still, more electoral energy in the eastern, greater Falls Church area of the county should come from the Fairfax County Board races. In the county-wide race for board chair, incumbent Democrat Sharon Bulova will face a challenge from the GOP’s Michael “Spike” Williams, as well as independent A. Will Radle. In the Mason District, incumbent Democrat Penny Gross will be challenged by David Feld, in the Providence District incumbent Democrat Linda Smyth will face a challenge from Chris Grisafe, and in the Dranesville District, incumbent Democrat John Foust will be tested by Republican Dennis Husch.
Republican expect to rally their cause at their next Fairfax Republican Committee meeting at Falls Church High School July 20, when all of their candidates in the region expect to attend. They’re also counting on the already-active 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of former governor George Allen to rally supporters to their cause.
The same goes for the Democrats and their 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of former governor Tim Kaine. If the narrow victory of Democrat Sen. Jim Webb over Allen in 2006 is any indicator of what will happen next year, then the outcome will be decided by the voter turnout in the eastern section of Fairfax County and Falls Church.
This means there will be plenty of incentive, even if some of the races in 2011 will not be overly competitive in this area, for both major parties to be investing a lot of political capital right here starting this fall.