- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 31, 2006

RICHMOND — Democrat Mark R. Herring last night won a special election for the state Senate seat that represents a part of the fastestgrowing county in Northern Virginia.

Mr. Herring, a former Loudoun County supervisor representing Leesburg, captured 12,379 votes, or 61.6 percent, with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial results posted by the Virginia State Board of Elections.

Republican D.M. “Mick” Staton Jr. received 7,688 votes, or 38.2 percent. Mr. Staton is a member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and represents Sugarland Run. There were 20 write-in votes.

The 33rd District seat was vacated by William C. Mims, who resigned to become chief deputy attorney general. The Republican held the seat since 1998.

The district includes parts of Loudoun and Fairfax counties.

Special elections rarely elicit large voter turnout. Yesterday, 13.6 percent of the district’s registered voters went to the polls.

Much of the race was about coattails, with prominent Republicans and Democrats jockeying for their preferred candidate.

Mr. Staton’s father-in-law, Richard H. Black, served in the state House of Delegates from 1998 until November, when he was unseated by a Democrat.

Mr. Black, Loudoun County Republican, was considered one of the chief pro-life legislators, authoring measures such as requiring fetal anesthesia during an abortion.

Delegate David E. Poisson defeated Mr. Black by painting him as an extremist who was out of touch with issues facing voters such as traffic and congestion.

Mr. Herring used similar tactics during this quick race, campaigning against Mr. Staton with a “Like father-in-law, like son-in-law” message.

Yesterday, Mr. Black was seen at the polls stumping for Mr. Staton.

In 2003, Mr. Herring, a lawyer, unsuccessfully ran for the state Senate seat held by H. Russell Potts Jr., Winchester Republican.

His family recently moved to the 33rd District, in part so he could run for this seat.

The fast-growing region had been considered reliably Republican until the last election, when voters in Loudoun chose Mr. Poisson over Mr. Black and selected Democrat Timothy M. Kaine for governor.

Mr. Kaine beat Republican Jerry W. Kilgore, in part by campaigning on growth and transportation issues. Election analysis has shown those issues resonated with voters in the outer suburbs of Northern Virginia.

Mr. Kaine has campaigned for Mr. Herring in Loudoun County, and last week gave the candidate $10,000 from his inaugural fund.

Mr. Herring raised more than $156,000, according to campaign-finance reports compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project.

An analysis of the fundraising illustrates the importance of the seat for both parties.

Mr. Herring received $25,000 from Leadership for Virginia, a political action committee set up by centrist Republicans to protect those Republicans who voted for a $1.38 billion tax increase in 2004.

Mr. Staton raised $36,500, much of that from incumbent Republican senators, the campaign-finance reports show.

Yesterday’s special election was the fifth to take place in Virginia in recent weeks.

Democrats picked up a Lynchburg seat in the House that had been held by a Republican, and kept a Democratic seat from Southwest Virginia.

Republicans kept one seat in the House and one in the Senate in two special elections in Hanover County.

After yesterday’s election, the House has 57 Republicans, 40 Democrats and three independents. The Senate has 23 Republicans and 17 Democrats.

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