Redistricting brought a lot of changes to Prince William County, and the two biggest were changes to the overlapping 13th House District and the 29th Senate District. To add just a little bit of confusion, the 13th Senate District was moved up this way and will now cover a wide swath of Loudoun County and northern Prince William County. That got Bob Fitzsimmonds out of Chuck Colgan’s district, who quickly announced he would run for this seat. Sensing an opportunity, Dick Black announced once again he intended to move and will run in the 13th. Most recently, rumors that Gainesville Supervisor John Stirrup may run in this seat have emerged, setting the stage for the ultimate in conservative primary elections.
The district includes some of the most conservative portions of Prince William and Loudoun and is a rather safe Republican seat. If Democrats run a sacrificial offering in this district the only way that person would have a chance is if the Republican nominee dies during the campaign, and even then a write-in would have an advantage here. In an effort to concentrate conservatives somewhere other than in Chuck Colgan’s district, Senate Democrats created a place where the conservative bench can be developed.
Bob Fitzsimmonds has been running for office unsuccessfully for a decade, and no doubt the news of this district was very welcome for him. With little chance a strong Democrat running in the general election, it must have seemed like the district was created just for him. Then came Dick Black’s announcement that he would move into the district, and since the majority of the district is in Loudoun County, Black would then be the odds-on favorite for the nomination given his name recognition in the district, war hero status, and record. Although Black appears to be suffering from some sort of neurological disorder that raises questions about his ability to campaign effectively, people know him and conservatives tend to like him — a lot.
But last week another name emerged: John Stirrup. Stirrup is by far more likeable and electable, has a solid record, and is the only one of the potential candidates to have consistently won elections. He’s rather well known in Loudoun County, and given his leadership on the immigration issue (an issue that resonates well in both parts of the district) and a solid record on the Prince William Board as a slow-growth conservative he pretty much represents what many in Loudoun County wish Republicans should have consistently been before they were handed their hats four years ago. So if Stirrup decides to run, the presumptive front-runner in the race changes yet again.
The behind-the-scenes buzz is that Stirrup is quickly lining up tremendous support. No one seems to dislike Black or Fitzsimmonds, they just genuinely like John Stirrup. Stirrup has been there to help out a lot of other Republicans in Northern Virginia and even when he has been engaged in controversial issues the controversy never seemed to embroil him. In this district that will play well.
If John Stirrup decides to run, the Senate of Virginia better watch out as the Chichester-Potts style of Republican leadership prevalent there is going to have a difficult time containing him. That will do Virginia a lot of good whether Republicans take the majority in the Senate or not.
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