Virginia Senate candidate uses personal connections and an unobtrusive campaign.
Tom Gordy, Republican State Senate candidate from the 29th District, views his campaign for Virginia senator as an opportunity to play David to the Goliath of Sen. Charles Colgan, the incumbent.
“You have to be more agile, you have to be a little bit below the radar screen,” Gordy said about running a race against the well-respected incumbent. “We have worked hard to put together a grassroots campaign. We’ve knocked on doors; we’ve made the phone calls. We have touched every household in this community.”
The 29th district, which includes all of Manassas City and Manassas Park City as well as part of Prince William County, has been represented by Colgan since 1976. Colgan is a moderate Democrat with a number of political accomplishments under his belt, but according to a recent article in The Washington Post, a poor economy and anti-incumbent sentiment might work against him in the election.
Gordy’s bid for the Senate is operated from an unassuming house that has always served as Republican campaign headquarters in Woodbridge, Va. It is adorned with dozens of signs and full of excited volunteers — young and old — who made phone calls and put up fliers and door hangings.
The community seems to appreciate the personal touches of Gordy’s grassroots campaign. Many people did not expect the personalized phone calls and the door-to-door visits— more than a thousand of which were conducted in the last week.
Listen to a phone call Gordy made to a Prince William County resident
“They get a personal connection with me. We get to have a conversation,” he said. “That has really helped me throughout the campaign to find out what they are concerned about.”
Those concerns largely consist of the economy and the state of the roads in the Commonwealth. Gordy believes that the quality of life for residents could be improved by simple changes, including removing a traffic light at Route 28 to ease road congestion and to help people get to work.
“Those who have jobs usually have them somewhere else, and they fight traffic all day,” he said. “Having wealth is one thing but having a good quality of life is equally as important.”
Jobs in the area of Prince William County are becoming scarce and Gordy says job creation in the area should be at the forefront of the push to salvage the economy.
“We may be one of the wealthiest counties in the country, but you’re not wealthy because you work here in Prince William County. You’re wealthy because you work somewhere else fighting traffic to get to work,” he said.
He believes if more jobs were available in the county to residents, many of the main issues would be solved.
“People want solutions,” he said. “It’s about doing things smarter and not spending money on band-aids, but spending money on solutions.”
The average wage in the county is $42,000, which is $8,000 lower than the average wage for the state. Gordy says he is committed to resolving these issues if he is elected, which has been a lifelong goal.
Gordy began his political career in 2000 while working as a legislative staffer in the state Senate. He also worked for six years as a communications director on Capitol Hill and chief of staff for the Virginia members of Congress.
Listen to Gordy speak about his responsibilities form the Virginia Members of Congress
Gordy says his experience working on Capitol Hill eventually led him to run for public office because of the change he wasn’t seeing in government.
“I had a more cynical view of politics at that point,” he said. “I felt like we weren’t solving problems.”
His goal now, he says, is to work to solve the problems he said were being swept under the rug for so long. But his ambitions and goals for the state sometimes take a toll on his family.
“My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow. She’ll be 6 years old. She was born on election day 2005, so every six years she’s going to find herself with a birthday on election day,” Gordy said. “There’s been quite a bit of sacrifice.”
Though birthdays may be celebrated days earlier, and family trips to Disney World may be postponed, Gordy says his family has taken it in stride and has been very supportive of his campaign—one he hopes will win him the state Senate seat.
“It’s been a little bit different campaign. We just wanted to lay low and come on strong in October, and we have done that,” Gordy said.