Correction to This Article
The article about the decision by Fairfax County Supervisor Pat S. Herrity (R-Springfield) to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat held by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) misstated the year in which Herrity lost a race for board chairman to fellow Supervisor Sharon S. Bulova (D-Braddock). It was 2009, not 2008.

Fairfax supervisor Herrity to run for Rep. Connolly's seat

Fairfax County Supervisor Pat S. Herrity's decision sets up a GOP nomination battle.
Fairfax County Supervisor Pat S. Herrity's decision sets up a GOP nomination battle. (Dominic Bracco Ii For The Washington Post)
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By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fairfax County Supervisor Pat S. Herrity (R-Springfield) said Wednesday that he will seek the Republican nomination against first-term U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), as both parties in Northern Virginia begin to ramp up for the contest.

Herrity, 49, an accountant whose father was chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors in the 1970s and '80s, had contemplated entering the race for weeks. Word leaked about his potential candidacy, and on Wednesday, he called his announcement "probably the worst-kept secret" in Fairfax.

"Things have changed dramatically in the last four years," Herrity said at a news conference at the West Springfield Government Center. "Simply put, I believe our country is at a crossroads, and I feel I am the best candidate who can provide fiscal responsibility in Washington."

Herrity's entrance into the race sets up a Republican primary battle with Keith Fimian, a wealthy Oakton businessman who had pledged to stay in the contest regardless of Herrity's decision. Fimian, who lost to Connolly in 2008, recently received the endorsement of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). On Wednesday, Fimian said he has raised close to $550,000, and his campaign released a statement labeling Herrity as an ambitious opportunist and a "career politician."

Herrity successfully ran for Fairfax supervisor in Springfield in 2007. He lost a 2008 race for board chairman to Sharon S. Bulova (D) by 1,206 votes out of 103,972 cast. On Wednesday, he said the looming primary contest was not worrisome, saying "competition is good" and calling Fimian's criticisms "unfortunate."

Republicans have been preparing for a competitive primary between Herrity and Fimian. Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, and Becky Stoeckel, chairman of the 11th District Republican Committee, have endorsed Herrity. Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) endorsed Fimian, 53, several months ago and said Wednesday that he's sticking to his endorsement, "but Pat is a great guy, and I think he would be a great congressman."

Fimian dismissed Herrity's endorsements as coming from "party insiders." "The voters don't want an insider," he said. "They are looking for fresh ideas."

Connolly deflected any questions about the 2010 midterm elections and the prospective Republican nominee, saying he would announce his reelection plans in mid-March. "I've been in office for 15 years, and my voters know me well," Connolly said. "I've won election seven straight times, and if I run again, I plan on winning."

Herrity's announcement also came on the heels of David W. Marsden's surprising victory Tuesday over Stephen M. "Steve" Hunt, a Republican former Fairfax County School Board member, in a special election in the 37th state Senate district. Republicans were optimistic for a win, especially after incoming governor Robert F. McDonnell won the district in November and a host of statewide and local Republican candidates had cruised to victory.

On Wednesday, Democrats attributed Marsden's victory to strong party organization and an energized voter base. Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had held the seat for seven years and Republicans had represented the 37th since 1992. Democrats now represent all 10 Virginia Senate districts that are at least partly in Fairfax County.

"Both state parties put a lot of money in this race, but this shows that Democrats here haven't given up," said Rex Simmons, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. "November was a wake-up call, and last night was a big victory for us."

Most important for Herrity is that Marsden (D-Fairfax) won right in his back yard; the newly elected senator beat Hunt in the Springfield district by 25 votes out of 10,569 cast for the two.

Republicans attempted to play down the Democratic victory, with Herrity saying that Hunt was outspent and outworked in the race to get absentee voters and Fimian calling it a "local election based largely on local issues."

On Wednesday, colleagues from both parties said they were surprised by Herrity's announcement. Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) said he didn't expect Herrity to run but supports his candidacy. Bulova, who defeated Herrity for chairman in 2008, said she had "always thought he wanted to be chairman of the Board of Supervisors, like his father."

Herrity was quick to note that his father, the late John F. "Jack" Herrity, also ran for Congress in 1978 against former U.S. Rep. Herbert E. Harris (D-Va.). The elder Herrity lost.

"You could say public service is in my blood," Herrity said.

The Republican primary for the 11th Congressional District is June 8.

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