After more than 14 months on the campaign trail, the finish line is in sight for Dave Hunt. On June 10, Fairfax County Republicans will go to the polls to determine their candidate for the state Senate. The winner will face four-term incumbent Democratic senator Janet Howell in the November general election. But first this 37-year-old political-neophyte, who has been stumping the 32nd district from Herndon to McLean since April 2002, must first pass his initial test, his party's open primary. Running on a platform of fiscal responsibility, tax and budget reform and transportation issues, Hunt, who endorsed the failed half-cent sales tax referendum, will face-off with conservative Republican Howie Lind next Tuesday.
"We've been working hard, knocking on a lot of doors and making a lot of calls. We're right at the end of the campaign," Hunt said, from his campaign headquarters in McLean on Friday. "At this point, it's all about getting out the vote."
Responding to some of the state senate district's issues, Hunt said:
ON HIS PRIORITIES
"Folks, want to see their kids out of trailers. They also want to see some real estate tax relief. I understand the real estate tax pays for a lot of the services in the county. Finally people want to solve the transportation mess. What I want to do and what I have to do is make sure that our $50 billion 2-year budget in Richmond is a good budget, that is responsible and that there are savings there. I have a business with 28 employees and we waste money. Our supply cost is too high and our phone system is too expensive and that is at a small scale. The same is true of the state government."
"Democrats talk about more funding for education, Republicans talk about more accountability for education. Both of them are right. The state doesn't provide enough funding for our schools and that forces the local government to kick in the rest and then most of that comes from our real estate taxes which forces them to sky rocket all because the state isn't doing its part. But Republicans are right when they say that the money being sent here is not always being spent wisely. Fairfax County has a $1.6 billion school budget and we don't have an auditor. That is bigger than most public companies and they are required to have an auditor. I am the first person to call for state responsibility of auditing of schools, it's a cooperative audit. It's just like Michigan and it would cost $12 million statewide and would save hundreds of millions of dollars and that is money that can be put back in the classroom. Too much of the spending is spent on administrative costs. The headquarters is a wonderful building — it's old, but it's a wonderful building. They want a new one and this is when you have modulars and trailers. If they had applied the real estate tax increases that we had over the last three years for school construction, we wouldn't have needed a bond issue and we wouldn't have any trailers in Fairfax County."
ON THE FAILED SALES TAX REFERENDUM
"The referendum is only on the mind of my primary opponent, not on the minds of voters. He is taking a victory and trying to make it seem like a defeat and regurgitating that issue to voters, again. I think that is what a demagogue does. Right now, whether you supported the referendum or not, we don't have enough in transportation funding. And even if the referendum had passed, you wouldn't have had enough. So that tells me that money allocated to roads and rail needs to be used as wisely as possible. I like the idea of redirecting regular road-widening funds to targeted intersections because it is cheaper and quicker to improve key intersections than to widen entire roads. I was the first person to say the $650 million transportation trust fund should be off limits to budget writers."
ON WIDENING ROUTE 7
"I like the plan to widen Route 7. The problem is there is no money for it. There would have been a $100 million in the referendum for it. Now, I have seen it on and off the 6-year plan, but something has to be done about it, particularly if Loudoun keeps developing because that Loudoun County traffic is heading right into Fairfax County. People in Great Falls, where I live, are especially concerned about that because if we don't improve Route 7, Georgetown Pike is going to become a parking lot. It's already a parking lot at rush hour."
ON THE PROPOSED TECHWAY
"I don't support the techway because none of the plans they put forward were reasonable or rationale. They had 10 different plans and they were ripping up houses left and right. I think we need to be smarter in our transportation planning. The second reason I oppose the techway is we haven't even provided a good enough infrastructure on the existing roads to handle all of our current traffic. So if we are going to spend money on a techway, that is money that should have first been spent on improving the network we have closer into the city. Studies are fine. They cost money, but what I would rather see is for us to put attention on where we know there is a need. We don't have to address this techway. There is no burning desire for a techway. We don't have money for rail to Dulles. We don't have money for Route 7. That is putting the cart before the horse. And I don't support any plan for a techway that requires ripping up of houses. I just don't approve it, that doesn't make any sense. The timing is wrong. With all the needs we have in transportation, I am not even sure why that is raising its head again."
ON STATE CIGARETTE TAX
"Virginia has the lowest tobacco tax, but I don't think it's fair to raise it from 2.5 cents a pack to 60 cents just because you disapprove of people smoking. That is basically an attack on a few people because it is an easy way to make money. Every single proposal to raise it has been irresponsible and I don't take tobacco money. I think before we raise any tax, we should first go down to Richmond and get a handle on the budget as it is. Politicians do not know how to say 'no.' If they haven't made good decisions about where they are spending money, then you shouldn't go back to the tax payers and say I am going to raise your taxes. Instead of talking about raising the cigarette tax, what about tax restructuring. I've heard that for years now, but every year is an election year in Virginia and an excuse to skirt that issue. Why don't we have a convention and look at all of our taxes, not piecemeal. They should do the bold and courageous thing and restructure the entire tax code."
ON SENATOR HOWELL
"She has a good heart. She's done some good things for abused women and for mental health."
ON PRIMARY OPPONENT HOWIE LIND
"The best thing I can say about Mr. Lind? He's tenacious. If he wins the nomination, I will support him."
"I am pro-life. I believe that life begins at conception. The gray area that I have is that I support abortion only in the case of the life of the mother. We need a legislator that will find a way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I don't just take that label and stick it on literature. I live it. I support crisis pregnancy centers. My mom is a counselor at one. Senator Howell didn't even support a ban on partial birth abortion. Eighty percent of voters in this district supported that. There is no reason for that. She is even outside of the mainstream of her own party."