Although one Republican, Dutch Hillenburg, filed to run against incumbent Sen. George Barker, no one filed to run against Democrats Ebbin, state Sen. Dick Saslaw, Del. Mark Levine or Del. Charniele Herring by the deadline in June, so theirs are the only names that will appear on the ballot next month.
Two weeks ago, the Commonwealth Republican Women’s Club determined that this would not do.
“The frustration of Alexandria’s moderates and conservatives is palpable,” said the club’s Linda Greenberg, who sent out the sole announcement that the four were throwing their hats into the ring. “We were unhappy with the fact that there were all these [seats] and nobody we could vote for.”
Alexandria and the surrounding region typically votes about 80 percent Democratic. Describing the incumbents as “extreme liberals,” Greenberg said the lack of Republican opposition “pains our patriotic hearts.”
The problem is that if any of the candidates were to mount a serious campaign, they would have to sink some money into the effort, put their lives on hold, and file statements of organization and campaign finance reports with the state. They would also have to cut vacations short, as the election is a mere two weeks away.
“I am two-thirds of the way through a six-week vacation in Portugal and Spain. I return to the USA on November 4,” Gerald D. Chandler, 77, who is running against Herring to represent the 46th District, wrote in an email response to an inquiry about his candidacy. He described himself as a conservative, free-market supporter who thinks that “all levels of government interfere too much in peoples lives.”
He wants more charter schools, more respect for those with “non-liberal ideas on same-sex marriage … more facts and less emotion to influence how Blacks are treated and relation between races. I think that the charge of racism has become so common that it is almost meaningless.”
Miller said she, too, had been on an overseas vacation for a portion of the fall, but she was newly returned and happy to talk about why the General Assembly needs more state senators devoted to “family values,” higher academic expectations at local schools and fewer abortions.
Neither Peter Benavage, who is running against Saslaw, nor Eileen Marie Brackens, who is challenging Levine, responded to requests for comment.
The candidates do not have the endorsement of the local Republican Party, chairman Sean Lenehan said, because the party’s understanding of state law is that any statement of support — including the cost of issuing a news release, postcard or sample ballot — would have to be reported as a campaign donation, which would require the candidates to file statements of organization and campaign finance reports with Virginia’s government.
“This isn’t a reflection on the people or the process or the group or anything else,” Lenehan said. “We want to abide by the laws.”