- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Residents in Northern Virginia head to the polls Tuesday for primary elections that will lay the groundwork for races in November, including at least one that could have a nationwide impact.

In the 11th Congressional District - which includes Fairfax and Prince William counties - four Democrats are vying for the chance to replace retiring Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a Republican.

A victory by Democrats would give the party the seat for the first time since 1995, when Mr. Davis began his initial term, and put another House seat in the party’s control.

“Certainly nothing is a given, but the demographics in the 11th District have changed,” said George Burke, chairman of the 11th Congressional District committee for the Fairfax County Democrats. “We believe it’s a Democratic seat.”

The party’s two leading contenders for Mr. Davis’ seat are well known in Northern Virginia and have waged heated campaigns against each other.

Leslie L. Byrne, a former state senator and member of the U.S. House, last week filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission purporting that the campaign of her competitor, Gerald E. Connolly, accepted illegal donations from his employer, Science Applications International Corp.

Mr. Connolly, 58 and chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, works as a consultant for SAIC. His campaign has dismissed the FEC complaint as “desperate” and accused Mrs. Byrne, 61, of attempting to “litigate the race.”

Two other candidates, physical therapist Lori P. Alexander, 40, and Iraq war veteran Douglas J. Denneny, 45, also are on the ballot.

The winner of the 11th District primary will face wealthy businessman Keith Fimian, a 51-year-old Republican running uncontested who has been endorsed by Mr. Davis and retiring Sen. John W. Warner.

“This seat isn’t going to be a slam dunk for Democrats,” said Mr. Connolly’s campaign manager, James Walkinshaw.

“The presumptive Republican nominee is a multimillionaire, and it’s a swing district proven it can go either way.”

In the heavily Democratic 8th District - which includes Alexandria, Falls Church and Arlington and Fairfax counties - incumbent Rep. James P. Moran, 63 and a Democrat, is seeking his 10th term in Congress against a challenge from lawyer Matthew T. Famiglietti, 55.

On the Republican side of the 8th District, financial executive and consultant Mark W. Ellmore, 49, and small-business owner Amit K. Singh, 33, are vying for the nomination.

Fourteen-term Republican incumbent Rep. Frank R. Wolf, 69, also is hoping to stave off a challenge from legal and policy adviser Vern P. McKinley, 45, in his 10th District party primary.

Democrats Judy M. Feder, a 61-year-old professor and former dean of Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, and retired Air Force Col. Mike R. Turner, 56, are fighting for the nomination on their party’s side. Mrs. Feder lost in her bid to unseat Mr. Wolf in 2006.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in each district.

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