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Thursday, June 23, 2011

GOP newcomer challenges Senate Majority Leader Saslaw

Annandale area voters will see some new faces challenging incumbents on the ballot next November.  

Today, we’ll look at how the races are shaping up for the Virginia Senate; we’ll look at House of Delegates, Fairfax County, and other elections in future posts.

In the 35th District, Republican Robert Sarvis is challenging the incumbent Democrat, Dick Saslaw, the majority leader in the Senate.

Sarvis, age 34, has never run for political office before. A resident of Annandale, he grew up in the Springfield area and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, Harvard University, and NYU law school. He is a co-founder of the Wertago LLC phone app development company.
Sarvis describes himself as a “lifelong Republican but not the ideological type.” He says he’s talked to a lot of voters and found people share his “frustration with government.”

“I am not a Tea Party type, but I understand where they’re coming from. They don’t object to paying taxes but believe the government is wasting money,” he says. Among the priorities he mentioned in a lengthy conversation with the Annandale blogger: comprehensive tax reform, more money for Northern Virginia transportation, term limits, and fewer mandates. He calls his campaign a “learning experience, not a career move.”

Sarvis believes it’s time for “new blood and new leadership,” but acknowledged it will be hard to unseat Saslow, who has way more fundraising capabilities.

Saslaw, a Springfield resident, has represented Northern Virginia since he was elected to the House of Delegates in 1976. In addition to serving as majority leader, he chairs the Commerce and Labor Committee and the Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation.

His priorities include bringing more jobs to Northern Virginia and providing more funding for transportation, education, and public safety.

Due to redistricting, many voters are likely to be confused on Election Day, unless they can figure out in advance which district they’re in.

The 35th Senate District picks up nine precincts in the Mason District that had been in the 31st. These are Baileys, Barcroft, Glen Forest #1 and #2, Holmes #1 and #2, Ravenwood, Skyline, and Willston. Some of these precincts are expected to be consolidated.

In the 37th District, the Democratic incumbent, Sen. David Marsden, is being challenged by Republicans Jason Flanary and Steve Hunt. Flanary and Hunt will face off in a primary Aug. 23.

A former Marine, Flanary is vice president of government relations for the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. He is a former legislative aide to Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax). Hunt served on the Fairfax County School Board 2004-07.

Marsden, a resident of Burke, is a former superintendent of the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center. He was elected to the House of Delegates in 2006 and to the Senate in 2010, but is likely to be unfamiliar to many Annandale voters. Due to redistricting, he will be campaigning in some Annandale areas that had been represented by Saslaw.

The redistricting process shifted four Mason precincts—Belvedere, Columbia, Masonville, and St. Albans—from the 35th to the 37th District. The Hummer precinct was moved from the 34th to the 37th.

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