#3 of the Top 10
37th District, incumbent Chap Petersen (D), all of Fairfax City, parts of Fairfax County
Outlook: Toss Up
The district that hosted 2001's most exciting campaign looked like it was headed for a boring one this year. With Chap Petersen leaving the seat open to run for Lt. Governor, the seat in the heart of Fairfax was open. The top two Democratic recruits were in both residents of the district for over 30 years, David Bulova (D), son of the popular local Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D) and Fairfax County School Board Member Janet Oleszek (D), 2003's biggest vote getter at large for the School Board. The Republicans were left with a candidate who just moved to the district, Jim Kaplan (R), who's community service was so slim that he listed "parents of multiples" (twins) as one of his community involvements that qualified him for the House of Delegates. But the Democrats parade to Richmond halted the day of the filing deadline, when former Fairfax City Mayor John Mason (R), jumped into the contest.
This district is always one of the close ones in statewide contests. We're rating it as a Toss Up for now, because there are many factors that will play into this race that we don't yet know enough about. They are:
#1- Will the Democratic Nominee have popular Delegate Petersen on the ballot with them in November (unlikely, but a potential boost to the Democratic Nominee).
#2- Will Fairfax City continue it's tradition of crushing Democratic nominees from outside the City, when their opponent is from the City? Under that scenario the string of losses for Democrats inside the City is long and unbroken.. from Emilie Miller in 3 Senate elections in 83, 87, and 91, Sally Ormsby in 87 and 89 for Delegate, Les Schoene in 97 for Delegate and Leslie Byrne in 99 for Senate. In all of these elections where the Republicans had a City candidate, and the Democrats did not, Republicans won the City by more than 2-1 (remarkable in an otherwise evenly divided area). Republicans used that margin to win every Delegate race above, but in the Senate contests where the City is only 10% of the district Democrats Miller and Byrne both won once.
#3- How will #1 effect #2? Would the City split it's votes between Petersen and Mason, or would Petersen have coattails? The likely answer is coattails, looking at the 2003 elections you can see Petersen's impact on the Senate race between Christian and Devolities. His coattails nearly provided the upset of the year. But again, that requires Petersen winning the primary statewide.
#4- Is there any difference between nominating Bulova or Oleszek for the Democrats? A major one, Bulova will be stronger in Fairfax County, especially Braddock District where his mother has served for over 20 years. Oleszek will be stronger in the City, since the County schools also run the schools in Fairfax City, and she is less antagonizing then the son of a County Supervisor.
#5- Will Kaplan get out of Mason's way or will he force a primary? If Kaplan gets out, it would be a major boost to Mason's resources. If he stays in, it hurts Mason, Petersen and Bulova. Petersen is hurt by Republican voters voting in that primary, instead of for him the same day. Bulova is hurt by Petersen's hurt, he is the more conservative primary candidate and is more likely to get Republicans voting for Petersen to also push his button (in the primary). Remember, you can only vote in one primary this year.
#6- Exactly how popular is Mason? He won big for 15 years as Mayor of Fairfax City, then was hammered in his 2003 re-election by almost a 2-1 margin. The issue was development, and if that was really the case, Mason should be ok in his comeback. If the issue was arrogance and the fact voters got tired of him, this will be uphill.
Republican Primary: Likely Mason
Democratic Primary: Likely Bulova
General Election matchups:
Bulova v. Kaplan- Likely Bulova (D)
Bulova v. Mason- Toss Up
Oleszek v. Kaplan- Likely Oleszek (D)
Oleszek v. Mason- Toss Up