For most of the races in Prince William County, the list of certified candidates is now official. About the only deviation from conventional wisdom is that Corey Stewart will not be facing a challenger for the Republican nomination for County Chairman. The rest of the candidate list is pretty much as expected, with contested nominations in the Gainesville, Coles and Brentsville Districts for Supervisor and a contested nomination for 36th Senate.
Since many of the challengers, or candidates running for an open seat, are new to many out there, here’s a brief rundown of my impressions.
Gainesville District race:
Martha Hendley is a current appointee on the Planning Commission who has been a slow-growth advocate for many years. On the planning commission she does her homework and is definitely more of a constituent’s advocate than someone who defers to staff or development interests. She’s run in the past for this seat, being narrowly beaten by Ed Wilborn in 1999. She refused to support Wilborn after the primary which ruffled a few feathers, but given how Wilborn worked out I don’t think anyone holds any grudges.
Her experience and history are a strong positive but she’s quite a bit older than someone you typically see running for their first elected office, and how that might impact the dynamics is yet to be seen. She’s in good health however, so there’s not any evidence to suggest she isn’t going to run as hard as anyone else. She also has plenty of support from insiders who have worked with her over the years.
If she gets the nomination, I think her chances to win are excellent, and I have no doubt she would do a fine job as Supervisor for Gainesville. Martha is one of the serious candidates in this race.
Peter Candland is one of those dream candidates the Republican Party should be training for a run for office. He’s the president of his Homeowner’s Association, he’s been a conservative activist for some years, he’s got charm and a good looking family, and he’s young enough to have plenty of time working his way up the political ladder. Pete reminds me a lot of Delegate Jackson Miller in many ways.
One of the reasons I draw that comparison is that he’s a smart candidate. He’s raising money, has got some good staff, and is running a professional campaign. He’s consistently been the first among the pack to start holding campaign events, get his website up, and start knocking on doors. He’s still learning though, and jumped the gun announcing John Stirrup’s decision to run for Senate instead of re-election which ruffled a few feathers. Now that he has competent staff, I expect we won’t see any further minor gaffes like that.
Peter would run a ferocious campaign if he got the nomination, and likely do very well in a general election as well as on the Board. This young man has a future in public service, and he would be a good pick also.
Steve Botello is a friend who got into politics about the same time I did, and we cut our teeth knocking doors for Jackson Miller during his 2006 campaign. Since then he’s taken on a number of leadership roles in the local Committee and been through the bumps and bruises of internal party politics. He’s a fun guy, definitely a party stalwart, and a hard worker. I had the honor of being the first signature on his petition.
Steve is one of those “on the bubble” candidates to me. He might be ready for this, and he might not be, but the experience regardless will be useful for him. I’m not too impressed by “Team Botello” at this point but at least he has a campaign team, and not everyone in this race appears to.
Steve is all energy, enthusiasm and passion, which are great qualities in a candidate. What we’ll learn over the next few weeks is whether there’s thoughtfulness and judgment there as well. This candidate is one to keep an eye on because there’s great potential here for him to quickly mature in the heat of battle into a strong candidate and a strong potential County Supervisor. If not, he will be his next time around.
Let’s give him a chance to show us what he’s got. We might end up impressed.
Michael High is someone most of us political junkies had never heard of before he decided to run. The only thing we’ve seen from him is that he asked the Board of Supervisors not to flatten Logmill Road (a modification made in response to all the people getting killed in auto accidents on that road lately) during citizen’s time, which is an awfully strange position for someone considering a political career to take. I can see that being mentioned in a mail piece or ten and crushing a candidate like this.
There’s no campaign team here, no campaign presence on the internet, only some spiffy headgear to indicate he has a campaign going. There’s no experience, no connections with the party, no nothing going on here. This campaign will perhaps limp across the finish line long after others have blown through.
It will be experience, however, and maybe that experience will translate into something more credible the next time around. As for this race, High is not a credible candidate.
Suzanne Miller (not Delegate Jackson Miller’s amazing wife, but the woman pictured to the left) is the comic relief for this election cycle. No relevant experience, no connections with the party, and I can’t imagine her getting much in the way of money. It doesn’t even appear that she understands what a Supervisor in Prince William County does. Heck, she’s never even shown up at citizen’s time to whine about anything.
What she does bring is an utterly unpredictable speaking style. Want to see someone go off on a five minute tangent about how she got terminated from her IT job, and now she now teaches Pilates? This is your gal. Anyone who wants to feel good about their public speaking abilities has got to come see her in action, as they’ll come away feeling really good about themselves. It’s a hoot.
If ever there was someone utterly unprepared to run for office this would be it. I’ve seen some pretty awful candidates in my time, and this one takes the cake. Any random neighbor in the county would likely demonstrate higher capabilities to run for office or qualifications to hold it.
Not many of them would look better in a tight, short skirt at a campaign event like this, however.
Brentsville District race:
Jeanine Lawson is a longstanding leader in the Republican Committee who has earned a tremendous reputation for hard work, getting things done, and being utterly dependable. Within the Republican committee I can’t imagine there’s anyone who doesn’t like and respect her, and she’s been quite vocal about a lot of technical issues around land use, education, and budgets. Add to that a good looking family, a lot of personal energy, and you end up with a tremendous candidate.
Jeanine is challenging incumbent Wally Covington for the Brentsville seat, someone who has run afoul of slow-growth advocates for years. Wally has also not been terribly helpful with schools and actually went so far as to discourage some badly-needed school construction in areas where overcrowding is a problem. On the issues Jeanine is a much better fit for this district and seems to intuitively understand it much better than the incumbent.
Jeanine Lawson would be a wonderful addition to the Board of Supervisors. We really are fortunate to have someone like this step up and challenge the pro-development Wally Covington who wanted to ram massive residential rezonings like Brentswood down the throats of county residents not long ago.
Coles District race:
Bob Pugh is a financial analyst and a long-standing member of Supervisor Stirrup’s budget committee. Bob would be the first member of the Board of Supervisors with a finance background — perhaps ever — should he be elected. For a county dealing with financial pressures like we are that could be huge. His experience with land use issues makes it even better, and putting the two together making him a fascinating candidate to replace the forever waffling, pro-development, and illegal alien lobby friendly Marty Nohe.
He’s new to campaigning and it shows a little, but he’s tackling this challenge with a lot of energy and passion. The challenge for Bob, as with Jeanine is to raise enough money to be competitive. He’s not likely going to outraise Marty Nohe, but he could potentially out-work him. Marty is a hard-working campaigner, so Bob really has his work cut out for him.
This should be an interesting race to watch.
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