Slam-Dunk Victory for Connolly

Incumbent County Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, right, campaigns at Antioch Baptist Church with House candidate Rex Simmons.
Incumbent County Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, right, campaigns at Antioch Baptist Church with House candidate Rex Simmons. (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gerald E. Connolly (D) steamrolled to a second term as chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday, defeating Republican challenger Gary H. Baise with nearly 60 percent of the vote on a night when Democrats dominated county elections.

Fairfax voters also named a successor to Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr., selecting Raymond F. Morrogh (D), his chief deputy for the past 18 years, over Patrick A. McDade (R), an assistant Arlington County prosecutor. In the race for Fairfax Circuit Court clerk, incumbent John T. Frey (R) held off a strong challenge from McLean real estate agent Dale A. Evans (D).

Five of the six incumbent district supervisors with contested races followed Connolly back to office by substantial margins: Sharon S. Bulova (D-Braddock), Catherine M. Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill), Penelope A. Gross (D-Mason), Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) and Michael R. Frey (R-Sully). Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence) ran unopposed.

In Dranesville, however, incumbent Joan M. DuBois (R) fell victim to the Democratic surge, losing her seat to John W. Foust. DuBois drew wide criticism for her vote in support of an elevated track through Tysons Corner as part of the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport. Foust lost narrowly to DuBois in 2003.

Voters in the Springfield and Lee districts selected replacements for two veteran supervisors, Elaine N. McConnell (R-Springfield) and T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), who both decided to retire. Jeff C. McKay (D), Kauffman's longtime chief of staff, defeated Douglas R. Boulter (R), a retired Army officer. Pat S. Herrity (R), son of the late John F. "Jack" Herrity, former board chairman, beat Democrat P. Mike McClanahan.

With the defeat of DuBois, the Democratic majority on the board grows to 8 to 2 from 7 to 3.

Democrat-backed candidates continued to hold the 12-member school board, which oversees Virginia's largest school system. The new board will have several familiar faces, with at least eight incumbents retaining their seats, including five candidates who ran unopposed. In the race for the three at-large seats, GOP-backed incumbent Stephen M. Hunt lost his reelection bid, finishing fourth behind Martina A. "Tina" Hone, incumbent Ilryong Moon and James L. Raney. In the Braddock District, the race between incumbent Judith T. "Tessie" Wilson and Elizabeth D. Griffith remained too close to call.

Voters also approved a $365.2 million bond referendum to build schools and renovate old ones.

With Connolly's resounding win, Fairfax voters once again rejected a Republican appeal to pare spending and limit the reach of county government. In 2003, Mychele B. Brickner, a member of the county school board, unsuccessfully sounded the same themes as Baise.

"It's a huge win. . . . It's an extraordinary sweep," said a jubilant Connolly, adding that Fairfax residents have endorsed his approach to government over that of his Republican rivals. "They are interested in leadership that gets results. They are not interested in ideology, and they are not interested in inexperience."

Connolly voters said they approved of the way local government was working.

"The county's running very well. If the status quo is going, keep it going," said Erich Steinbeck, a maintenance worker who lives in Connolly's Mantua neighborhood.

Baise, meeting with disappointed supporters at the Marriott Fairfax at Fair Oaks, said: "We have given it our all. We stood for the issues that we think are still important. We still stand for a party that is for lower taxes, a party that stands for limited government and limited spending, a party that will not pander with regard to the immigration issue. It is not the best of evenings for the Republican Party, but we stood on our principles."

Connolly campaigned on the agenda he brought to the chairmanship in 2003, pointing to gains in the stock of affordable housing, increased spending on early childhood education, enhanced environmental stewardship, transportation improvements and tax reform.

Baise, 66, a Falls Church trial lawyer who was making his first run for office, said the county was choking on traffic and profligate government spending. He pledged more road construction and an intensive review of the county budget to ferret out waste and fraud.

Connolly enjoyed a commanding financial advantage, raising $1.2 million through Oct. 29 to Baise's $285,000, far less than the $518,000 collected by Brickner during the same period in 2003. Baise criticized Connolly's reliance on donations from the development community, which made up about 30 percent of his campaign treasury. Baise said they created the appearance of conflicts of interest on the board, which makes land-use decisions that can directly affect the donors. Baise offered no specific instance of impropriety on Connolly's part.

Baise declined donations from developers. He made up some of the difference by using $80,000 of his own money.

Connolly depicted Baise as a courtroom ally of polluters, pointing to his law practice built primarily on corporate and agricultural clients in disputes with state and federal environmental regulators.

Morrogh, 50, has been a Fairfax assistant prosecutor since 1983 and Horan's chief deputy since 1988. Horan retired in September, and Morrogh has been the acting commonwealth's attorney since then.

McDade, 35, who has been on the job in Arlington for two years, said he would be an administrator of the office and would delegate high-profile trials to more-experienced litigators. Morrogh, a veteran of numerous homicide, rape and high-profile cases, said decisions should not be left to "a rookie," as he called McDade.

Fairfax Sheriff Stan G. Barry (D) ran unopposed for a third term. Voters also approved a $110 million transportation bond package, mostly for road improvements.

Staff writers Tom Jackman, Maria Glod and Michael Laris contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company