The WashPo reports that Delegate Scott Lingamfelter has filed paperwork to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2013 and setting up an interesting case where two candidates from the same locality are vying for the same statewide office. This certainly invites other potential candidates from elsewhere around the state to enter the race, perhaps as many as three of them from what I’ve been hearing, and with a hotly contested statewide election getting thrown into complete chaos, this very could well be the most interesting race to watch next year.
Chairman Corey Stewart had the field to himself for several months as we learned that Keith Fimian was not going to run, saw Virginia Victory Chair Pete Snyder not say anything publicly this race, and heard rumors that Jeff McWaters wasn’t going to run. For a while there it looked like Corey had scared off everyone else and had a clear field through the primary. With a solid campaign finance account, a few years under his belt swinging across the state to boost his name ID, and an interesting story to tell about local immigration issues and fiscal discipline, Stewart was looking like a lock for quite a while.
Lingamfelter has served in the House of Delegates since 2002, representing a portion of eastern Prince William and Fauquier Counties. His name ID probably isn’t as high as Stewart’s, but he’s had a solid tenure in the House and built some solid relationships there that should turn into endorsements, depending on who else enters the race. While Stewart has a pretty strong base across Prince William County, one of the largest localities in the state, that base is going to split to some degree between him and Lingamfelter. They key for both of them is who can expand their support beyond their districts, and Lingamfelter’s long association with the Family Foundation and the veteran’s community might suggest he has a better opportunity here.
These two recently butted heads over Prince William County’s practices with magisterial district funds, that many called (and I believe rightly so) political slush funds. After no action was taken by the Board of Supervisors, Lingamfelter announced he would sponsor legislation to ban their use, which was soon followed by Supervisor Peter Candland’s initiative to ban these at the local level. I know Stewart was interested in doing the same, but his delay in acting gave an opening for Lingamfelter to define an issue that separates them and Stewart’s actions since the ban in supporting amendments by Supervisor John Jenkins to exact political revenge upon Candland has increased the apparent contrast. I fully expect to see this issue to be front-and-center as these two debate which one of them should be Lieutenant Governor.
Since politics abhors a vacuum even more than nature does, the prospect of two Prince William County-based elected officials running for Lieutenant Governor begs for additional entrants in this race. Senators Jeff McWaters (Virginia Beach) and Steve Martin (Chesterfield County) are the two most likely to do so, as I don’t see RPV funding Pete Snyder’s travels across the Commonwealth for the Romney campaign only to see him leverage the name ID he’s gotten from it to run for office himself. JeanneMarie Davis, who seems to be testing the waters, would be demolished as a RINO in a convention, and the otherwise outstanding E. W. Jackson (who is not running, but is getting pushed by some quarters) needs to build a pedigree as an elected official and establish a more effective campaign operation in order to have much of a chance here. None of these potential candidates are particularly compelling in this race for various reasons, but opportunities like this don’t come very often and some or most of them could decide to give it a shot regardless.
If for some reason this became a straight-up Stewart v. Lingamfelter contest, about the only thing that’s certain is that it would improve both of them. Stewart is contagiously affable, politically savvy, and very good at sticking to a message and driving it home. Lingamfelter is one of the very best political orators in the state, a man of heartfelt convictions and solid conservative principle who doesn’t shy from tough policy fights. If you can judge someone by the quality of their opposition, both of these men earn some very high marks and whoever comes out on top is going to be more than ready to win in a general election against a unknown, untested, and inexperienced liberal like Aneesh Chopra.
This is going to be very interesting to watch.
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