2 Democrats vie for primary nod in 86th House of Delegates District around Herndon

Two Democrats with similar views but disparate résumés are squaring off in a Tuesday primary that will select a challenger for a House of Delegates seat held by a popular former mayor. Voter turnout is expected to be low.

Jennifer Boysko and Herb Kemp are vying for the party’s nomination in the 86th District. They had agreed to run a friendly contest focused on the issues.

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Candidate guide to the 2013 Virginia primary election
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Candidate guide to the 2013 Virginia primary election

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Boysko and Kemp, both in their first political campaigns, said they have abided by their rules because they share similarly progressive views. Boysko described Kemp as “a nice man.” Kemp said his opponent has maintained a respectful tone and that “neither one of us has had anything bad to say about the other.”

The candidates in the unusually friendly contest said they would support whoever won on Tuesday in a district that comprises Herndon and areas around Chantilly and Reston as well as two precincts in Loudoun County.

Boysko said that unlike the Republicans in Richmond, she would focus on the “kitchen table issues that we need to address.” Kemp said he would rise above petty partisan squabbles and help “get big things done.”

Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R), the former mayor of Herndon, has held the seat since 2002, and Democrats acknowledge he will be tough to beat because of the power of incumbency, strong constituent services and his general likability. So far, Kemp and Boysko have saved their vitriol for the Republican Party, saying it focuses on the wrong issues in Richmond, such as a bill passed last year that required women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion.

Boysko and Kemp said they hope a strong turnout in November will propel whichever Democrat advances during the off-year primary, when voter participation is often low.

Boysko, who was state director for former Vermont governor Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, said she is a longtime Democratic activist and political aide with deep ties in the area. The 46-year-old recently resigned as an aide to Fairfax Supervisor John W. Foust (D-Dranesville) to focus on her campaign, she said. She has garnered the endorsements of fellow Democrats such as U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly and Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova.

“They know me, they trust me, they respect the work I’ve done in the community and they know I’ll be a good delegate,” Boysko said.

If elected, Boysko said she would work to secure funding for early and secondary education and mental health services and reduce traffic congestion, among other issues.

She said the push by some Republicans in Richmond on issues such as abortion prompted her candidacy. “Seeing us on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘The Daily Show’ . . . frustrated me to no end,” she said, referring to the ultrasound legislation.

Boysko has raised around $131,000 to Kemp’s $47,000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in state politics.

She said those dollars would help her spread her name and message and propel Democrats to help her oust Rust if she wins the primary.

Kemp said he is not worried about Boysko’s fundraising advantage because he has promises from donors that if he wins the primary, they will open their checkbooks.

The 62-year-old former Air Force colonel said he is relatively new to politics because he was barred from getting too involved during his military career.

Kemp said he was persuaded to run after his Herndon house served as a staging area for Obama campaign workers during last year’s presidential contest. Obama campaign operatives urged him to run for office after he talked with them about numerous ideas, he said.

In particular, he said he was incensed by the Virginia voter ID law passed this year, which closed a provision that had allowed Virginians to vote without identification but also expanded the types of ID accepted at the polls.

“An infringement on the rights on one of us is an infringement on the rights of all of us,” Kemp said. “That gives me the fire in the belly.”

If elected, he said he also would take on economic issues and ensure that the area’s tax dollars come back to the district for transportation projects.

He said that a successful career in business and the military gives him the best chance of defeating Rust, who is also a successful businessman. “I have the résumé that can go head to head with that,” Kemp said.

Voters also will choose the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, either Aneesh Chopra or Ralph S. Northam, and the party nominee for attorney general, Justin E. Fairfax or Mark R. Herring. Terry McAuliffe is the uncontested party nominee for governor.

Polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

 
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