So far, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the two candidates running in the Republican primary for the chance to oppose incumbent state Sen. Dave Marsden in the 37th District. The primary is Aug. 23
In a debate at Braddock Hall July 18, both Jason Flanary and Steve Hunt vowed to put the lid on government spending and oppose tax increases.
Hunt was already defeated by Marsden in a special election January 2010 to fill the Senate seat vacated by Ken Cuccinelli (R), who was appointed attorney general by Gov. Bob McDonnell. Since then, the 37th District’s boundaries have been redrawn and it now includes larger sections of Annandale.
Hunt is a systems analyst at SAIC, one of the area’s largest defense contractors. He was an at-large member of the Fairfax County school board from 2004 to 2007. Hunt said he is running for the state Senate because he wants to eliminate taxes and regulatory burdens that hamper businesses.
Flanary, 33, is chief operating officer of ccAdvertising, a market research company. Flanary said he is running because “we need more business people in government. We ought to be electing people who know how to balance a budget, meet a payroll, and control taxes and spending.” He said he would tackle “fiscal mismanagement” and retain more state money in Northern Virginia.
More than half the debate questions had to do with transportation.
Hunt said mass transit should be part of the solution to traffic congestion, but not the only solution. He proposed better express bus systems and commercially run telecommuting centers closer to people’s homes. He objected to the high cost of extending Metro to Dulles airport and said it would be cheaper to provide a free shuttle bus.
Flanary also expressed concerns with the cost of bringing Metro to Dulles and suggested a rapid transit bus system as a better alternative. “We must reduce congestion in Northern Virginia by every means necessary,” he said, including better timing of traffic lights and allowing people to drive on the shoulder lanes on I-66. He also suggested reducing Arlington’s taxing authority until Arlington agrees to widen I-66 inside the beltway.
Both said they were open to the concept of privatizing Metro, but expressed some reservations about how it would work.
When asked how they would help an unemployed person find a job and gain access to higher education, Hunt spoke about the need to bring private industry to Virginia by lowering the corporate tax rate. He suggested colleges and universities in Virginia receive a financial incentive for admitting higher numbers of in-state students.
Flanary would go further, proposing that the state set limits on the number of out-of-state students.
Hunt said he believes in limiting government spending, noting that a lot of social problems should be handled in the community by religious groups and nonprofits, rather than the government.
Both candidates promised to fight federal mandates. Hunt said he would oppose federal initiatives like health reform, cap and trade, and other efforts to impose federal encroachment on states’ rights
When asked how they will be able to beat Marsden next November, Flanary said he already knocked on 5,347 doors and will continue to reach out to voters personally. “You have to articulate your message in a way voters understand,” he said.
Hunt indicated his strategy is likely to focus on Marsden’s track record. Several times during the debate, he held up a photo of a new $350 million General Assembly building that he criticized Marsden for supporting.