State Del. Tom Rust (R-86) officially launched his 2007 re-election bid last week in Herndon, pointing to a string of accomplishments in transportation and education in Northern Virginia over his six years in Richmond.
Rust, a former long-time mayor of Herndon will face off against Herndon businessman and planning commissioner Jay Donahue, running as his Democratic challenger.
Rust’s campaign kick-off, held at the Herndon home of George and Laura Price, was attended by several local community supporters and political leaders. Present at the event were U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10), Del. Dave Albo (R-42), Dranesville Supervisor Joan DuBois, Herndon Mayor Steve DeBenedittis and several Herndon Town Council members.
During a speech to supporters at the event, Rust highlighted his role in the passing of the first transportation funding bill for Northern Virginia in more than 20 years and his continuing effort to secure education funding to the region. Rust also expressed his desire to see more efforts taken on the state level to address the perceived negative effects of illegal immigration.
NEWS OF RUST'S campaign kick-off was met with enthusiasm from fellow Republican supporters on both the local and federal level.
"He has learned to navigate a very difficult political terrain in Richmond and he continues to address the important issues that affect Northern Virginians," said U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-11). "He is a very well-respected guy and he brings the kind of substance and experience to his post that allows him to do his job so well."
Wolf underlined his appreciation for Rust's role in passing the transportation funding bill which guarantees a projected $350 million to improving regional roads, highways and transportation alternatives.
The new funding appropriation "would not be in effect if it were not for Tom ... he was really the leader of putting that together," he said. "Whether you're a Democrat or Republican or independent, that is important."
Donahue's camp has stated that while they respect Rust's long-time role as a community leader, the transportation funding was jeopardized by Republican delegates, including Rust, when they proposed extra levels of bureaucracy to its management.
"I think everybody knows that the version sent by Republicans to Governor [Tim] Kaine was DOA and it took the work of Democrats working with the governor to set it right," said Steven D'Amico, Donahue campaign manager. "We need somene to stand up who can work with the governor and get effective legislation passed ... and the bottom line is that the Republican party isn't going to do this."
RUST HAS OCCUPIED Virginia's 86th district since state redistricting established it in Northern Virginia in 2001. Rust won that first new election by defeating Democrat James Kelly after securing nearly two-thirds of the vote.
Rust later retained his seat running against Kelly in 2003, before running unopposed in 2005.
Rust, who will turn 66 next month, has served nine non-consecutive terms as Herndon mayor and has sat on the board of trustees for Virginia Tech.