Va. GOP ‘euphoric’ at Senate takeover prospects

Party has $6M cash advantage

RICHMOND — A day after statewide primaries set the stage for the fall elections, Republican leaders touted their candidates and their party’s chances of retaking the state Senate and gaining unfettered control of Virginia government for the first time in 10 years.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling; Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., James City Republican; Republican leader pro tempore Ryan T. McDougle, Hanover Republican; and Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins all sported “21” pins at a news conference, signifying the total number of Republicans needed for an outright majority in the state Senate. Democrats now hold a 22-18 edge.

“I am absolutely euphoric about the lineup we will have this fall,” said Mr. Norment, who defeated tea party candidate Mark Frechette by a nearly 3-to-1 margin Tuesday night.

Twelve of the 16 Republican senators seeking re-election in November have no Democratic opposition, while 16 of the 20 Democratic senators running for another term will face a Republican opponent, the group noted.

“We are going to playing offense, and the other side is clearly going to be playing defense,” Mr. Bolling said.

Republicans now hold a huge cash advantage over Democrats. Including political action committees, they had $13.7 million on hand as of June 30, compared with $7.4 million for Democrats, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Still, Mr. Bolling said that money wasn’t everything.

“You can raise all the most money in the world and not be successful if you don’t have a good ground game,” he said.

Right now, Virginia Republicans control the governor’s mansion, the lieutenant governor and attorney general’s offices, and the state House of Delegates.

Democrats are at the very least confident voters realize that giving the GOP control of the Senate would also give them absolute power.

“Virginians understand that the Senate Democratic majority is the last line of defense against an extreme Republican agenda that puts divisive social issues ahead of jobs and the economy,” said Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Brian Coy. “We’re looking forward to pitting our results-oriented Democratic leaders against the Republican slate of fringe tea partiers.”

Among the more closely watched races in Northern Virginia will be 13th District Senate contest, in which former Delegate Dick Black, a Republican and one of the Assembly’s most conservative members when he was in office, will face Loudoun County businessman and Democrat Shawn Mitchell. The district is composed of parts of Prince William and Loudoun counties.

“The focus of our race is on jobs and the economy,” Mr. Black said. “The Democrats under the Obama administration have drawn us to where our economy is near collapse, and Republicans are going to have to bring it back.”

Mr. Mitchell said his campaign would also focus on jobs, as well as education and transportation — issues about which voters keep talking to him.

“As I’ve knocked on doors and talked with voters over the last couple of months, it’s clear they want a senator who will go to Richmond and fight to keep our classroom sizes small, work to support businesses in Loudoun and Prince William, who will create and maintain jobs here and work to find practical solutions to our transportation crisis that is decreasing our quality of life,” he said.

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