- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

RICHMOND | Delegate Kristen Amundson shocked Virginia Democrats by announcing Wednesday, just four months before November’s election, that she will not seek a sixth term.

Her departure leaves open a seat with a record of voting strongly Democratic and a race with a solid Republican challenger in a year that Democrats hope to take a House majority.

Mrs. Amundson, from Mount Vernon, said in an e-mail to supporters and in an interview with the Associated Press that financial considerations drove her decision.

“Campaigning is a full-time job and I just made the difficult decision not to run,” said Mrs. Amundson, a self-employed writer who owns a communications company. “I just decided to focus on my business.”

She elaborated in her e-mail letter to supporters, saying her legislative service had been rewarding in every regard but one.

“Financially, it was always a sacrifice for me to serve. But for most of those years, I have been able to put together enough freelance and consulting work to allow me to continue in public office,” she wrote.

“All that changed with the recession. Among the cutbacks that many businesses and organizations have made are the consulting services that provided the bulk of my income,” she said.

Virginia legislators meet only for about two months or less annually in regular session and receive $17,640 for their service.

While her 44th District votes steadfastly Democratic, her departure leaves the party to find another candidate quickly to contend with Republican James E. “Jay” McConville and independent Gail Parker in the Nov. 3 election.

Fairfax Democratic Committee Chairman Scott Surovell has declared himself a candidate for the seat and may be the only Democrat to contend for it.

Mrs. Amundson has been a consistent progressive since her election to the state House 10 years ago. She has been an advocate for Northern Virginia transportation funding, women’s reproductive rights and child health care.

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