Shawn Mitchell, a Democrat opposing Black in next week’s election for state Senate, is using Black’s record to show he’s extreme for even a new Republican-leaning district in Loudoun and Prince William counties.
Democrats have spent months employing a similar strategy across the state, hoping the conservative crop of Republicans running in this election gives them the edge they need to hold their thin majority in the Senate.
“Having served . . . with Dick Black, I saw up close how zealously out of touch he is with what middle-class families need,’’ said Brian Moran, a former legislator who is chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. “His obsession with divisive social issues won’t create a single job, won’t get a single commuter out of traffic and won’t put a single teacher back in our classrooms.”
But Black, like most Republicans running for the Senate this year, has not focused on social issues during his campaign, choosing instead to talk about how to create jobs and ease traffic congestion.
“People in Loudoun understand that you gotta have fiscal responsibility, you gotta keep taxes low and you gotta create jobs,’’ Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said in an interview. “Dick Black represents those kind of ideas.”
Black and his campaign manager, Chris Lore, declined to comment for this article. Black has countered Mitchell’s attacks in TV ads and campaign mailers by accusing him of dishonesty after a former employee sued him for allegedly stealing clients and by tying him to an increasingly unpopular President Obama.
“Shawn Mitchell appears to be of questionable character,’’ one mailer says. “We can’t trust him in the state Senate.’’
Mitchell said that he and his former employer settled the lawsuit with no judgment against him but that a confidentiality clause bars him from talking about it. He has written to Comcast to demand it stops airing the ads that include “false and defamatory content.”
The 13th Senate District, which includes part of Black’s former House district, was drawn this year to accommodate a half-million residents who have moved into Northern Virginia in the last decade.
Senate leaders carved the district this summer as part of the once-a-decade redistricting process in which they moved political boundaries for all 40 seats, creating an area that has been carried by Republicans: George Allen in the 2006 U.S. Senate race, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the 2008 presidential election and McDonnell in the 2009 gubernatorial contest, according to an analysis by the state.
Voters in the inner suburbs of Northern Virginia, including Alexandria and Arlington and eastern Fairfax counties, are generally reliable Democrats, but residents in the outer suburbs represent more of a swing vote.