- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Two top-ranking Republicans in the Virginia legislature easily won renomination in their primaries yesterday, while a third incumbent barely won by about 100 votes as party leaders maintained their control of the General Assembly.

State Sen. John H. Chichester of Fredericksburg, the top-ranking Senate Republican, defeated challenger Mike Rothfeld, a political consultant from Stafford, by a 2-to-1 margin. During the campaign Mr. Rothfeld had called Mr. Chichester “only slightly better than the Democrats.”

Sen. Thomas K. Norment of James City defeated real estate mogul Paul Jost, winning 62 percent of the vote. The race was marked by a war of words and spending. Election experts say the primary could be the most expensive waged in Virginia politics. The candidates’ combined spending was expected to top $1 million.

However, Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. of Winchester barely withstood a ferocious challenge from small-business owner Mark Tate, winning by an unofficial margin of 7,459 to 7,352 votes.

The race became a focal point for national Republican fund-raising groups with different priorities.

Mr. Potts received backing from the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, a national group that advocates limited government, and Mr. Tate was backed by the Club for Growth — a pro-life, antitax group with an active chapter in Northern Virginia.

There was one major upset in the 14 Virginia legislative primaries. Political newcomer Jeffrey M. Frederick, a 27-year-old Woodbridge Republican, unseated incumbent Delegate John A. “Jack” Rollison, 52, the chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

In another key Republican primary, Mychele B. Brickner was nominated for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Mrs. Brickner, a county School Board member, defeated former Chairman John F. “Jack” Herrity, 56 percent to 44 percent.

In Fairfax County, Mrs. Brickner will now face Democrat Gerald E. Connolly, Providence District supervisor, in November for the seat being vacated by Katherine K. Hanley, who is running for Congress.

Mr. Connolly was unopposed yesterday.

Mr. Herrity, who held the chairmanship from 1976 to 1988, said the difference in the campaign was that he was “outspent and outorganized” by Mrs. Brickner, who was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, himself a former member of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors.

Springfield Supervisor Elaine McConnell held on to her seat against challengers Stan L. Reid and Linda L. Clary.

Every General Assembly seat — 40 in the Senate and 100 in the House of Delegates — is up for election in November.

Conservative challengers Mr. Rothfeld, Mr. Jost and Mr. Tate said they were more opposed to taxes and abortion.

The three incumbents accused the challengers of negative campaigning. Mr. Chichester said the voting results were “an outright repudiation of negative campaigning.”

“The character assassination I went through for the last 60 days was unwarranted and unnecessary. The voters of this district saw it for what it was and just said thumbs down on that,” he said.

Mr. Tate said his narrow loss sent a “clear message” to the Virginia General Assembly. “The people in the 27th District are crying out for tax reform and tax relief,” he said.

In Arlington, Adam Ebbin had received 771 votes to Teresa Martinez’s 728, with all 10 precincts reporting, in the race for the seat being vacated by Delegate L. Karen Darner, Arlington Democrat. Andres Tobar was close behind, with 695 votes reported.

Republicans David Hunt defeated Howard Lind and will now run against Sen. Janet D. Howell, Fairfax County Democrat. Unseating Mrs. Howell is a priority for Republicans because it would increase their control of the Senate, which stands at 23-17. Republicans control the House by a 64-34-2 margin.

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