Arlington Lawyer Enters GOP Race

David M. Foster was elected to two terms on the nonpartisan Arlington County School Board.
David M. Foster was elected to two terms on the nonpartisan Arlington County School Board.
  Enlarge Photo    
By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 20, 2008

RICHMOND, Nov. 20 -- David M. Foster, the former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, announced Wednesday he will seek the Republican nomination for attorney general next year.

Foster, a lawyer at the Washington law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski, said he is a "common-sense conservative" who can help the Republican Party win votes in increasingly Democratic Northern Virginia.

"I think it is important we have a nominee for attorney general who has electability, top-flight legal qualifications and a new set of common-sense conservative solutions to the challenges we face," Foster, 55, said at a news conference at the state capitol.

Foster becomes the third GOP candidate to enter the race to replace Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R), who is running for governor next year.

Foster will face off against Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax) and John Brownlee, a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, for the nomination when the GOP selects it candidate at the state party convention in late May or early June.

Foster, a former Capitol Hill staff member, got his start in GOP politics in 1996, when he chaired Sen. John W. Warner's Arlington campaign. In 2000, Foster was elected to the Arlington School Board. He was reelected in 2003 with 62 percent of the vote, which he says proves he can help the GOP ticket rebound next year after a series of punishing losses in Northern Virginia.

"I am able to say I won not once but twice in overwhelmingly Democratic Arlington," said Foster, who left the board in 2007.

But school board races in Virginia are nonpartisan, and to win the nomination, Foster will most likely have to position himself to the right. In the coming weeks, Foster will face a difficult hurdle in convincing the GOP activists who will decide the nomination that he is a conservative while maintaining his potential appeal with general election voters in Northern Virginia.

Foster said he opposes abortion rights and gay marriage and supports gun rights and the death penalty. Foster also stressed Wednesday that he fought to end racial preferences in admissions at Arlington magnet schools and worked to limit the school system's debt.

If elected, Foster said, he will focus on cracking down on Internet fraud and revamp the office to be more aggressive in investigating misuse of tax dollars. Foster, who launched a two-day tour of the state, also vows to take a more aggressive approach in investigating allegations of voter fraud.

"Those who attend the Republican convention have to know I share their right values that most in our party do," Foster said. "But I have to go beyond that to reach to . . . Northern Virginia on the issues that concern them if we if we are going to be a majority party again. I don't see the two as being in conflict."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company