Frederick declined to talk about his turnaround with party leaders. But sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could talk freely say he sat down with many of them before the campaign. “It is what it is,” he said.
Frederick said his top accomplishments in the legislature include bills that expanded the number of tests administered to newborns, created a back-to-school tax holiday and delayed tasks, such as renewing a driver’s license, for those deployed.
He called Puller “a nice lady” but said her campaign mailers are deceptive because they make her appear to be a “conservative, fiscal Republican.” He has blasted her for supporting higher taxes, including for gas and hotels, and for creating new taxes, including one for the use of travel Web sites.
“I think Toddy is as left wing as they come,” he said. “She is way out of the mainstream.”
Puller said her top accomplishments include legislation that helped veterans receive mental health treatment, required emergency vehicles to use lights and sirens when entering an intersection against a red light, and secured a transit study for Route 1.
Much of her work has focused on veterans issues. Puller’s late husband — a decorated Marine veteran who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about recovering from severe wounds he received in Vietnam — committed suicide in 1994. The Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Dale City is named for her late father-in-law, Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine in history.
New district lines
The General Assembly redrew the 36th District to include less of Fairfax County, more of Prince William County and a couple of precincts in nearby Stafford County.
The district was carried by Sen. James Webb (D) in 2006, Obama in 2008 and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), who lost to McDonnell in the 2009 governor’s race.
But Republicans note that the district includes nearly all of Frederick’s former House district and many areas in Prince William and Stafford counties, where people are not as familiar with Puller.
Frederick easily defeated Tito Munoz — a small-business owner dubbed “Tito the Builder” by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential race — in the August primary.
Frederick is known for his energetic campaign style, knocking on more doors in the district than most other Republican candidates in the state do. He said his campaign visits about 2,400 homes a week.
Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said volunteers are working to reduce the margins that Puller is expected to get in Fairfax. They have made 65,000 calls since the start of August, rivaling their successful get-out-the-vote efforts in 2009, when Republicans won all three statewide seats — governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general — and picked up six seats in the House.
“She’s from Fairfax and is known there,” Bedell said. “She’s a tough campaigner, and nobody takes that lightly.”
Puller, who lost some movement after a stroke in 1997, said she spends hours a day calling voters in Prince William, where she is less known. Her campaign said she and her team can reach 6,500 potential voters in a week through calls and visits.
Bruce Roemmelt, chairman of the Prince William County Democratic Committee, said more than 200 volunteers and 11 interns are calling thousands of potential voters a week for Puller and other candidates.
Democratic leaders — including U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Webb and former governor Timothy M. Kaine, now a candidate for U.S. Senate — have headlined events for Puller.
Puller has raised more money than Frederick. She has collected $200,150 since the start of the year, when she had $77,549 in the bank, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics. Frederick has raised $179,328.