Fairfax County’s Democratic and Republican parties will both be fielding new leaders in an election year whose stakes couldn’t be higher.

With Virginia in play as a possible swing state in the presidential race, and a heavyweight clash for the U.S. Senate under way, members of the Fairfax County Republican Committee have selected James E. “Jay” McConville to be its new chair.

McConville, 48, a businessman and former Army intelligence officer who lives in the Alexandria section of the county, was chosen Saturday to serve a two-year term. He nominated his rival, Matt Ames, 52, a Providence District party chairman, to become 1st vice chair.

McConville will be squaring off in Northern Virginia’s most populous jurisdiction against a new leader for the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

Cesar del Aguila, a Herndon resident who got his start in political activism with the campaign of Sen. Jim Webb, took over as party chair on Jan. 3 when he defeated Barbara L. Caputo in a heated race. Caputo, 60, of Herndon, was the Democratic Committee’s regional vice chair-north. Her husband is former Del. C. Charles “Chuck” Caputo.

Aguila, 46, whose family has roots in Peru, was born in the District and grew up in Maryland. A IT entrepreneur, he moved to Herndon about five years ago, became involved in the battle over illegal immigration and a day-laborer’s center, and narrowly lost a bid for Town Council. He too will serve a two-year term.

Del Aguila’s and McConville’s predecessors both announced soon after last fall’s election that they would be moving on.

Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said at the time that he was departing with a sense of satisfaction. Having taken over after President Obama won Virginia, Bedell worked to rebuild the party.

Last fall, the GOP fell short of attempts to put as many Republican-endorsed candidates on the Fairfax County School Board as they would have liked, but the held onto Supervisor John C. Cook’s Braddock District seat, despite a strong challenge – and tons of last-minute union money – flooding into the race.

Rex Simmons stepped down in January. Besides picking up victories in special elections for Sen. Dave Marsden, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn and School Board Member Sandy Evans, Simmons helped reelect Reps. Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran in an otherwise tough year for Virginia’s Democratic congressional representatives. Last November, Fairfax County Democrats backed 42 candidates in 48 races for an 87 percent success rate.