Dick Black, running in Loudoun and Prince William counties, was criticized by leaders of his own party in 2003, when as a delegate he sent fellow lawmakers pink plastic models of fetuses as they prepared to vote on an abortion bill.
Democrats, behind in recruiting a litnd fundraising, think the conservative crop of Republican candidates selected last month to run in November gives them the edge they need to hold on to their thin majority in the Senate.
“A lot of them are nut jobs,’’ Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said. “They’ve nominated a group that makes the governor of Texas look sane.”
Republicans are aggressively fighting to take control of the Senate, where Democrats hold a 22 to 18 majority. If the Republicans pick up just two seats, the party would seize control because a Republican — Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling — presides over the state Senate.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and House Speaker William J. Howell (Stafford), both Republicans, hope a GOP Senate will help them pass bills that have died at the hands of Democrats, including those involving school choice, illegal immigration enforcement and pension reform.
But the Senate has always been considered the commonwealth’s more moderate chamber — even when the GOP controlled it — and Republicans there often disagreed more with the House, run by their own party, than with Democrats in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City), who at a recent news conference sported a “21” pin symbolizing the number of senators his party is seeking for outright control of the chamber, said the Democrats’ insistence that the candidates are too conservative is “political hyperbole bordering on hysteria.”
Voters went to the polls last month to select Republican candidates in seven Senate primaries across the state after previously securing others in mass meetings and conventions.
The State Board of Elections is expected to certify candidates for the November general election this week, following the unofficial start of Virginia’s election season, which begins with parades and barbecues on Labor Day.
Republicans have candidates running in 36 of the Senate’s 40 districts, compared with just 27 for the Democrats, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics.
Thirteen of the 16 Republican senators seeking reelection will do so without Democratic opposition. But 16 of the 20 Democratic senators running for another term will face Republicans.
They include Frederick, who is running against Sen. Linda T. “Toddy” Puller (D-Fairfax); and Light, who faces Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell). Black is running against Democrat Shawn Mitchell in a new district that includes Loudoun and Prince William counties.