Election 2011: Off to the races

7 years ago by in 2011, Uncategorized Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reporters traveled to locations across Northern Virginia today to cover important legislative races.

Observer journalists reported from the front lines of five of Virginia’s legislative elections Tuesday, covering four state Senate seats and one state House of Delegates seat. This is an overview of the candidates in these races and why we chose to focus on them.

The statistics from the 2008 presidential election and 2009 gubernatorial election, courtesy of the Virginia Public Access Project, reflect what the results in each of these districts would have been if they were using the new district boundaries approved in 2011.


Barbara Comstock (R)* Photo courtesy of Barbara Comstock

Pamela B. Danner (D) Photo courtesy of Pamela Danner

Overview: Comstock won the seat in 2009, beating incumbent Del. Margi Vanderhye (D) by 316 votes. Comstock had the monetary edge this year. She outspent Danner over the course of the race. But Danner had The Washington Post’s endorsement and tried to turn the race in her favor by arguing that Comstock is more conservative on gun control issues than the majority of her constituents.

Location: Fairfax County (Great Falls, portions of McLean and Tysons Corner) and Loudoun County (Countryside and Sugarland Run)

2008 Presidential Election: Obama (D) 51% – McCain (R) 48%

2009 Gubernatorial Election: McDonnell (R) 57% – Deeds (D) 43%


Chuck Colgan (D)*
Tom Gordy (R)

Photo courtesy of Charles Colgan

Photo courtesy of Tom Gordy

Overview: Colgan, who had been in the state Senate since 1976, was practically an institution in that body. While his districtbecame more Democratic as a result of redistricting, the state Republican Party viewed the race as a viable prospect for a seat pickup. The party donated to Gordy’s campaign $250,000 between Oct. 4 and 19. The Democrats’ Virginia Senate Caucus donated $162,000to Colgan’s campaign between Oct. 12 and 31. The Virginia Tea Party Alliance, smelling blood in the water, began targetingColgan’s campaign the week before the election, airing ads on TV and radio that tied Colgan and other candidates to President Obama.

Location: Prince William County (Dale City, portions of Dumfries) and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park

2008 Presidential Election: Obama (D) 61% – McCain (R) 38%

2009 Gubernatorial Election: McDonnell (R) 55% – Deeds (D) 45%


Adam Ebbin (D)
Tim McGhee (R)

Photo courtesy of Adam Ebbin

Photo courtesy of Timothy McGhee

Overview: Ebbin, the state delegate who beat two other candidates in the closely contested Democratic primary, faces political newcomer McGhee in this year’s race to replace retiring state Sen. Patsy Ticer (D). The district is heavily Democratic, and pundits have said McGhee has little chance of victory. The race drew attention after McGhee made a perceived smear against Ebbin’s sexual orientation. Ebbin was Virginia’s first openly gay state delegate.

Location: Arlington County (Crystal City and Fairlington), Fairfax County (Fort Belvoir, Huntington and Mount Vernon) and Alexandria City (Del Ray, Old Town and Potomac Yard)

2008 Presidential Election: Obama (D) 65% – McCain (R) 34%

2009 Gubernatorial Election: Deeds (D) 58% – McDonnell (R) 41%


Barbara Favola (D)
Caren Merrick (R)

Photo courtesy of Barbara Favola

Photo courtesy of Caren Merrick

Overview: The race to replace retiring state Sen. Margaret Whipple (D) was more competitive than this district’s past history would indicate. It was one of the few districts where a majority voted for state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) in the 2009 gubernatorial campaign. The Democratic primary between Arlington County Board member Favola and lawyer Jaime Areizaga-Soto quickly turned negative, with the candidates exchanging charges of race-baiting and mudslinging. Favola tried to regain her campaign’s financial footing after spending copious amounts of money during the primary. The two candidates were about at parity for total fundraising at the time of the election.

The general election campaign centered on the issue of gun control. The National Rifle Association gave Merrick an A- and Favola an F. The NRA defines an A-grade candidate as a “Solidly pro-gun candidate. A candidate who has supported NRA positions on key votes in elective office or a candidate with a demonstrated record of support on Second Amendment issues.” Favola told ARLnow.com she got an F because she declined to fill out the NRA’s questionnaire. She did fill out a similar candidate survey from the National Association for Gun Rights, in which she indicated she opposed several pieces of pro-gun rights legislation.

Location: Arlington County (Ballston, Fort Myer, Rosslyn), Fairfax County (Great Falls, Langley, McLean) and Loudoun County (Potomac Falls and Sugarland Run)

2008 Presidential Election: Obama (D) 61% – McCain (R) 38%

2009 Gubernatorial Election: Deeds (D) 55% – McDonnell (R) 44%


Toddy Puller (D)*
Jeff Frederick (R)

Photo courtesy of Linda Puller

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Frederick

Overview: Even after redistricting, this district remained Democratic. Still, Puller found it politically necessary to feature Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on her campaign’s website. She also became a prime target of the Virginia Tea Party Alliance in the waning days of the campaign. The state Republican Party’s Senate Caucus thought it a winnable enough race to warrant a $20,000 donation.

Location: Fairfax County (Hybla Valley and Kingstowne), Stafford County (Garrisonville and Widewater Beach) and Prince William County (Dumfries, Quantico and Woodbridge)

2008 Presidential Election: Obama (D) 63% – McCain (R) 36%

2009 Gubernatorial Election: Deeds (D) 51% – McDonnell (R) 49%

Note: A candidate with an asterisk (*) next to his/her name is the incumbent.

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