Virginia House of Delegates 2005 Elections

Keeping You up to date on the status of Virginia's 2005 Delegate races!

Friday, April 22, 2005

#4 of the Top 10

41st District, incumbent Jim Dillard, part of Fairfax County
Outlook: Toss Up

This should have been the #1 race of the year to watch. A district George Bush won by 18 votes out of 30,000+ cast. A Warner, Kaine and Kilgore district in 2001. And lots of exciting candidates.

But one by one the top candidates have all dropped out. Choices 1, 2 and 3 for the Democrats all looked like they were in, then they were out. Springfield School Board member Cathy Belter was choice 1, but for unknown reasons she decided not to do it. 1999 Democratic Nominee Eileen Filler-Corn, an aide to Governor Warner was choice 2, but citing her job with the Governor she was out. Choice 3 for the Democrats was former Chap Petersen aide Ben Tribbett, but he was in and then back out.

The Republicans have had no better luck. Their consensus choice, former school board member and 2003 nominee for Chairman of Fairfax County Mychele Brickner had family issues come up and decided not to make the race. Moderate Republican Brad Davis, a teacher at the local high school, was the second choice for the "electibility first" wing of the party. But he too dropped out.

What does that leave us with? Democratic Nominee David Marsden, a former aide to Governor Gilmore (guess why he was the fourth choice), and Republican candidates Michael Golden, and Bill Finnerfrock vying to be the GOP's third choice.

Yawn. We'll look into this more as we get more information. For now, take a look at what we missed:

Belter v. Brickner
A match up of candidates, both of whom lost previous fights to move up, but won seats on the Fairfax County School Board. Slight Edge to Belter, but a great race to watch.
Belter v. Golden
Much like the Barg v. Frederick race this would have been old experience, vs. young leadership. Belter isn't quite as old as Barg however, and this district is a little more Democratic. Edge to Belter, but fun to watch.
Filler-Corn v. Brickner
Yeow! Two female candidates who are well known for their hard hitting previous campaign. Can anyone say catfight!?! In a dignified manner of course.
Filler-Corn v. Golden
Filler-Corn who ran in 1999 to Dillard's left (yes, it is possible) vs. Golden who ran well to Dillard's right in 2003. Basically very liberal v. neo-conservative in the closest district in the state. This might have been the best one to watch of all. Both candidates are in their 30's, so the stakes would have been huge, as the winner would be Delegate for a long time.
Tribbett v. Golden
Speaking of being Delegate for a long time. This would have been the youngest matchup in Virginia history! This is the guys version of a catfight, neither Michael Golden or Ben Tribbett know how to throw a jab, it's all haymakers. Another factor is both candidates have lived in this district for most of their lives. That usually makes an election turn into something that looks like a high school student government race.
Marsden v. Davis
The funniest matchup. Party switching Gilmore/Dillard aide David Marsden (D), versus party switching Dillard aide Brad Davis (R). They both might have dropped out if they learned you can only be a member of one caucus in Richmond.


At 10:50 AM, Blogger LiebJef said...

Seems like you have a very good brief rundown on whats going on in VA '05, but I have to disagree with your interpretation of this race in the 41st. I am not sure I know exactly what you meant when you said it was a "catfight", but I think that some very legitimate concerns were brought up while Ben was still in the race that the voters deserved to hear and should have been addressed. He certaintly can be an attack dog and throw jabs when he wants to. You also make an assertion that this would have been like a student government race. I don't know if you were referring to the style of campaigns that would be run, or simply that they were from the district and long time residents, but I know Ben is a very smart political mind and is very competent at running successful campaigns. He did manage Chap Petersen's campaign that ousted a strong repuplican incumbant in '01.
Other than this part that I disagree with..good commentary.

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

liebjef- no offense intended. I didn't mean to attack Ben, but just to note that an election with him and Michael Golden would have been fun to watch.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Wahoo Dan said...

Marsden is pretty strong, considering he's got big ties to Dillard (EXTREMELY popular in the 41st amongst both parties). That's going to save the day for him.

Any Republican running as a democrat in a democratic leaning district is going to win in a walk. So I disagree a bit with this analysis.

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wahoo: What planet are you on? The Democrats of the 41st are in full revolt. I'll post some of the letters to the editor that have appeared in local papers there. Saslaw had to step in and beg Dems to stop blasting Marsden this week in the Fairfax Connection. His position in the Gilmore cabinet and as a Cuccinelli poll worker is making Democrats sick.

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Restoring Democratic Leadership in Richmond

Dear Editor,

With the close of the recent General Assembly session we are reminded once again that Northern Virginia is not getting the leadership it deserves from the Republican majority in Richmond. The elimination of our local judges, our local rules on issues such as red light cameras and gun control, combined with continued support for ludicrous "bedroom peeping" laws all show that it's time for a change in Richmond.

Now, Delegate Jim Dillard of Burke has announced his retirement.
Delegate Dillard has always been an enigma, one who has opposed many
of the laws mentioned above while in Northern Virginia but at the same time supporting his rural colleagues in House committees in Richmond. His impending retirement is as an opportunity for the Democratic Party
to pick up another seat and offer an alternative to Republican
incompetence in Richmond.

However, as of today there no actual Democrat has stood up to offer a choice for the voters of the 41st District, which encompasses Burke and parts of Kings Park West, Fairfax Station, and Springfield. The only announced candidate is David Marsden, a lifelong Republican and a former senior aide to Governor Gilmore. That is all well and good, but Mr. Marsden made the baffling decision to file as a Democrat despite a lifelong history of being anything but. The truth about Mr. Marsden's storied history with the Democratic Party:

#1) Marsden spent 30 years as an active Republican official in
Fairfax County. During this time, he supported candidates like George
Allen, Jim Gilmore, Oliver North, Mychele Brickner, Carter Thomas,
George Bush the 1st and George Bush the 2nd.

#2) Marsden was rewarded for his loyalty to the Republican party with an appointment by Jim Gilmore to a cabinet level position as Director of Juvenile Justice, a rare appointment indeed for a "Democrat."

#3) When Gov. Mark Warner was elected and began cleaning up the mess in Richmond, he replaced Gilmore's political appointees with the best-qualified individuals, regardless of party. It comes as a surprise then that Dave Marsden was not rehired.

Yes, that's right. A Democratic Candidate that Gilmore Hired and Warner Fired.

Marsden claims he became a Democrat long ago, and that this flip-flop does not smack of blatant opportunism. However, the facts - so often the thorn in the side of Republican Party - do not back this up. As recently as 2003, Mr. Marsden was a Republican poll worker for Ken Cuccinelli. In 2004, the most important election in recent political history, this "longtime" Democrat did not vote in the Democratic presidential primary despite the fact that 5,200 other people in the 41st found the time to express their preference for who would represent the Democratic Party that he supposedly belongs to. In fact, he has never voted in a Democratic primary. It appears that the first time he will do so will be when he votes for himself on June 14th.

To the Democrats of the 41st District: It is not too late to run.

The filing deadline is April 8th, and surely a district so rich in
young professionals and people of ability can find a real, viable
Democrat to be our voice in Richmond. If you are interested in
running, please contact me at and I will walk you through the process.


Joseph P. Frick

(The writer is a longtime Democratic activist and the former president of the Robinson Young Democrats.)

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You missed out on predicting a Tribbett v Davis scenario... Ben is a former student of Davis' AP government class. Davis would have tons of ammo for a smear campaign!

At 7:50 PM, Anonymous Wahoo Dan said...

Ehhhh - crazy liberal activists will be crazy liberal activists, won't they? Some Democrats insist on nominating pierced hippie freaks for every race...they'll get over it.

I'm not so worried about base turnout for Democrats in fairfax've got a governor's race going on. They'll come to the polls.

At 2:29 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Wahoo, its a funny comment, but you miss the point a little. It's not the conservative/liberal thing, it's the Gilmore thing more than anything else. One of the reasons i have this as a tossup is I want to see how Marsden answers the question of why he went from Cuccinelli in 03 to Dem in 05.

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Wahoo Dan said...

Yeah, I hear it. I just think that knowledge of local races is so low that when the Democratic base gets out, they'll see Kaine and check D and see Marsden and check D. And I wouldn't be surprised if the moderate Republicans in that area go for Dillard's successor.

Part of my analysis is also based on the fact that Michael Golden just finished serving as College republicans chair at Liberty university (ok, I made that up - but come on - he's quite young). And the other guy, forget his name, hasn't raised much money.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Wahoo Dan said...

Damn you blogger!

Oh and I'm from the planet Charlottesville. VIA Richmond.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

That is exactly what the Marsden folks are hoping for Wahoo. They better calm down the reservation and get them out of the local press if he wants to pull the "just check the D's name" strategy.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Waho Dan said...

They've got plenty of time for Marsden to visit tons of ultra-liberal groups and sing cumbaya (sp?).

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

LoL. I hope he knows the words.

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous RobinsonYD said...

I'm so unhappy about this. I'm in the 41st, but like Waldo said, what am I going to do other than vote for Dave? But then again, it SO pisses me off that that's the attitude the party takes. "If you don't like it, look at your other choice." Right near me Chap Petersen is the Delegate, and he has two great possible succesors. I would take any of them. Then over the other way is Greg Werkhieser. I'd take him. Why did we get this guy while everyone else got great candidates. :(

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Wahoo Dan said...

Man, it sucks that most districts don't have a Greg Werkheiser running...but seriously, if you're a dem, you should definitely support your party. I've met Marsden, and he's a moderate. That's the truth. But he's also a REALLY good guy.

I mean, Dillard was a liberal Republican. At worst, Marsden will be slightly to the left of Dillard. At best, he'll be a solid Dem. I think people are really going off the deep end about this. Earth to Democrats: You're living in a red state! Take what you can get!!!

At 3:02 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Where did you meet him Wahoo? Do you want to share more? I'm interested.

At 3:03 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Props to Marsden for a new good looking website. The terrible pictures of him are down, and new better ones are up.

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great analysis. Just a few comments from someone who knows the district:

Dillard's popularity in the 41st is mere myth propogated by a certain wing of each party.

There are two reasons why Dillard retired: (1) The last time we had competing R and D primaries ('80), he lost the primary. (2) In a recent poll, his re-elect numbers were under 40% and his negatives were very high.

If wahoodan thinks Golden is "quite young" at 31, he must also think Werkheiser (also 31) and Jeff Frederick (not yet 30) are "quite young."

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Wahoo Dan said...

They are quite young! But Golden LOOKS young. Sorry, but he looks like he's straight off the college republicans convention bus.

And Dillard IS popular - he's done so much for education in this state. I know you guys on the far right hate him.

I met Marsden at a dem party event...seemed like a nice guy. That's my impression.

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

*Cue up Adams Family Theme*

Da-Da-Da--Dunh. *clap clap*
Da-Da-Da--Dunh. *clap clap*
Da-Da-Da--Dunh. *clap clap*
Da-Da-Da--Dunh. Da-Da-Da--Dunh.
Da-Da-Da--Dunh. *clap clap*

Does anyone else thinks Marsden looks like Lurch?

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are proving my point. The myth of Dillard's popularity is propagated by those who wish it were true.

It's funny, really. You guys know the only way you can hold this seat (yes, it would be a D hold and R pickup) is by proclaiming Dillard's universal appeal and tying Marsden to Dillard with one hand while holding your nose with the other. The problem is that--like it or not--the district does not worship Dillard the way you wish it did. The numbers don't lie. Dillard quit because he knew he was done. Now you think the district wants a Dillard clone with no seniority and a bad case of political opportunism?

Marsden has no ground game, weak fundraising (outraised by Golden and less cash on hand with no primary?!), and no core activist support. Unless something shocking and unexpected happens, this one will not be as close as people think (think Cuccinelli/Mitchell '03).

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like your site, notlarrysabato. Please keep up the high quality analysis thru November. One quibble with your 41st analysis. Your history of republican candidates is way off. Mychele Brickner never got in the race because she didn't have the support. Almost everyone she was counting on said they were on Michael Golden's team. Bricker is a supernice person but anyone who saw that 2003 chairman race understands why. Same with Brad Davis. He was in the race for like 3 weeks before he figured out he had no real support other than his high school students. You're right that the moderate/libs in the party wanted someone other than Golden, but all they could muster is Bill Finnerfrock who has no name id and was out of the loop for like 15 years. Michael Golden has been the republican frontrunner in this race since 2004, although the libs in the party didn't like it. I can't elaborate but a more accurate description would be to say that Golden was the first conservative republican choice and Finnerfrock was the third liberal republican choice.

On the other hand, your history of the democrat candidates is pretty close to right. The democrat powers-that-be forced Cathy Belter out so they could run David Marsden. She is still angry so that could be a factor too.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

I quibble with Finnerfrock being the 3rd liberal choice, only because I dont think Brickner was ever the "liberal" choice. Davis probably would have been more liberal then Belter, Tribbett or Marsden (not Filler-Corn, she has the left pole firmly in hand)

At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are right that Brickner was not a liberal choice. She was the second conservative choice. There was another liberal choice before Finnerfrock, though... Also, your opinion of Brad Davis is accurate.

You have a lot of excellent knowledge about these races. Keep up the good work, and tell your sources they are overall very good.

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, I have my doubts about Davis, seriously. He was a liberal Democrat, in fact, the President of the Young Democrats, while he was in college. Somehow, he became an aide for Dillard, and then ran as a Republican, only to drop out to work for FF. What's the deal?

At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really think that Davis would have made the greatest candidate. Sure, he was kind of an unknown at the beginning, but I think he dropped out too soon. He could have garnered support as a moderate, mainly by showing up in his nightly drinking stops, like the Old Ebbit Grill. Brad really drinks a ton of alcohol. He is one of the biggest drinkers I have ever met. Bars close down when they see him coming.

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that true? I heard about that! Mainly though, I heard that Brad is a real ladies' man. The women are all over him. He has to fight them off whereever he goes.

At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Davis drop out to join the military?

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad Davis is not a member of the armed forces, as far as I know. I know he resigned his post in the VEA, however.

At 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long is Davis going to continue to be an Assistant Coach? How could he be a delegate if he can't make head coach after 15 years.

At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Davis was actually a coach of his Rec Sports Football team in College. He designed the Q2R, which is now Norv Turner's main play.

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that the same play as the famous "Green Panther", which Davis made famous?

At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad Davis was a highly successful student Senator in college

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daaaahhhh, I can't believe the defamatory messages about me up here! I will ruin all of you for doing this!!!! I am a good Southern Moderate and deserve the respect of any stateman and public servant!!!

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe one of the reasons Davis dropped out of the race, according to Hugh Sidey, is because the nomination will be determined by primary instead of a smoke-filled convention hall full of delegates.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not entirely true. Davis dropped out because he knew that getting elected actually involved some work, which is a four-letter word to him. Also, the massive groundswell of support that Davis was expecting just wasn't happening as fast as he wanted.

In addition, Brad is gay.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this just in: bradley c. davis (d-r-i-r) is back in the race! he is covertly getting his former students and some out of town interests to draft him. look for a public announcement soon

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rumors about the Draft Davis movement are true. Evidently the out-of-town interests have been working slowly but surely to get Brad back into the race, where he belongs. Campaign co-chairmen are reportedly going to be David E. Middleton and Isadore Smokke Bong.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard rumors that brad davis leads an alternative lifestyle?

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the alternative lifestyle refers to brad's switching of party allegiance. In college, he was a democrat--now he considers himself a republican.

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe brad will re-enter the race. He has enlisted the help of former William & Mary College Democrat Steve Taylor.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Isadore a relative of the well-known P. Jefferson Bong family of central Ohio? If so, Davis has a powerful ally in his camp. "P. Jeff" won many an election in his day.

At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dare you people defame such a fine member of the military. Though he allegedly "got pnemonia" at the end of his basic training, and that everyone else even remotely associated with the military has been sent to Iraq, Davis has served his country with great dignity.

-Wesley Clark

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that Brad may have legal issues as well that drove him from the race. Something about a night at the Baja Bean company in Charlottesville?

At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't Brad a Log Cabin Republican?

At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Davis campaign seemed to have several fundamental flaws:

(1) the candidate is constantly out of the district with one of the many women he spends time with on a regular basis;

(2) the district seemed not ready for a candidate who has switched party affiliations 23 times in the last 5 years; and

(3) the turnout projections from Greeley Boulevard were not as strong as originally expected.

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous WSHS said...

I thought you said drinking was bad?!

At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad Davis would be a good Delegate. I dont believe he left the Democrat party -- it leeft him. As I understand it, he was quite conservative in college, as were several of the folks he wss in the Young Dems with.

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous BurnedByDavis said...

It is not possible to be conservative or liberal if you have absolutely no opinions. Davis has zero leanings, which means that he can never be proven wrong, and no one can ever run against him. It also means that he can't run in FAVOR of anything, which unfortunately for Davis is part of the process.

Davis will continue to switch parties as long as he sees a void, or a possibility of getting somewhere without being contested in an election. Until then, he stands for nothing, and those willing to spend money on his next campaign (no matter which party), caveat emptor.

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Joe Tighe said...

Brad Davis's political accomplishments were limited in scope as a Senator at William and Mary. One remembers two of his famous crusades, saving Rec Sports from financial ruin and making sure that W&M enacted a visionary anti-smoking policy across campus.

At 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Daaaaaaaaah, I can't believe that the, ah, em, something. I feel discomboobulated. I'm a good southern moderate, er, and......get off my truck!!!


At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that Davis is still holding a grudge against George Grayson for stealing his stapler.

At 9:51 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Isn't there anything better to talk about then a candidate who never had a chance?

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believet that the massive write-in campaign for Davis hasn't come through.


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