Fairfax County Board of Supervisors chairman Kate Hanley on Tuesday issued a statement that confirmed the rumors running rife in Dranesville District: she will not seek re-election as board chairman.
"That's the rumor I'm hearing," said Dale Evans, chairman of the Dranesville District Democratic Committee hours before the formal announcment.
"I am grateful to the citizens of Fairfax County who have elected me six times: three times to the Providence District seat and three times to be Chairman," said Hanley in a prepared statement. "Serving them has been an honor and a privilege, and I thank them.
"At the end of this term I will have served almost 20 years, including my stint on the Fairfax County School Board. It is time for me to explore other opportunities. I don't believe I can do three things at once: serve as Chairman of the Board; run for re-election, and explore other options in my future. It would be a disservice to my colleagues, and especially to my constituents to slight the job I was elected to do, and will do, until this term ends on Dec. 31, 2003."
Va. Sen. Leslie Byrne (D-35th), a longtime adversary of Hanley's within the Democratic Party, said she will file papers today to form an exploratory committee to run for Moran's seat.
"We're about 13 or 14 months out from the primary," Byrne said.
Jan Reeves, who chairs the Democratic Party in Fairfax County, said she had no prior knowledge that Hanley planned not to run for chairman.
But Hanley, a resident of Reston, first elected chairman when she succeeded U.S. Rep. (R-11) Tom Davis in 1995, has acknowledged she is considering a run for the Congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th) of Alexandria.
"If Kate chose to do this, and give up her chairmanship, we'd both see where we stood in a few months, and one of us would defer to the other" to oppose Moran, Byrne said.
Byrne served U.S. Rep. from the 11th District from 1992-95, when she was defeated by Tom Davis, the incumbent Republican.
Davis resigned as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to run for Congress.
Byrne said she has "no intention" of running for re-election to the Virginia Senate.
"The Republicans have made a special effort to redistrict me in with another Democratic woman [Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31)]," Byrne said. To run again, "I'd have to move, or run against another Democrat."
She said she has "extraordinary loyalty and support" and has seen "an outpouring of support for me to run against [Jim] Moran in the past week.
"It's no secret in the Democratic Party that a number of people approached me [to run against Moran] in 2002," she said. "I didn't think it was the right time."
Now that Hanley has announced she will not seek re-election most Democrats expect Providence District Supervisor Gerry Connolly (D) to run for chairman. "I certainly hope he would," said Evans.
Democrats hold a 7 to 3 majority on the Board of Supervisors, and Connolly is seen as a moderate who has not alienated the three Republicans on the board.
If she runs, Hanley would likely wait before she announces a run for Congress, because she would then come under federal elections rules.
Unlike Virginia election rules, federal rules differentiate between sources of "hard" and "soft" money and require disclosure of donations by corporations, said a Democratic Party source.