Greg Galligan said he is running for the State Senate seat for Virginia's 39th District because he is "someone who takes on important fights. And Jay O'Brien [the incumbent Republican state senator] has consistently been fighting against Northern Virginia on transportation, education, health care and support for first-responders."
Galligan ran against O'Brien in 2003, and he is now vying with George Barker in the June 12 Democratic primary for the chance to go another round with the incumbent. He said he has gathered momentum since his first run, which he believes can carry him to Richmond.
"We're running the largest and most grass-roots campaign this district has ever seen," said Galligan, noting that his campaign has gathered more volunteers and more money than any others in this race.
Galligan is campaigning on the issues he said O'Brien has neglected. He said he would fight for state funding for Northern Virginia's transportation projects. The arrangement by which Northern Virginia localities raise money for their own projects via local taxes and fees, he said, is only increasing the burden of high real estate taxes. "The rest of the state should assist us in paying for transportation improvements because we are the economic engine of the state," said Galligan. "It benefits everyone."
EDUCATION WAS the issue that prompted Galligan to run in 2003, after Gov. Mark Warner (D) lamented that Virginia was seriously under-funding its schools. Now, said Galligan, the Republican state leadership is pitting education dollars against funding dollars. He also said that he would support the state's effort to resist "unreasonable mandates" on schools from the federal government. Although he believes in accountability, he said, he does not want to see creativity stamped out in the classroom or too much emphasis placed on standardized tests.
Galligan said the state also needs to make health care and prescription drugs more available to all Virginians. His own father suffered from emphysema and diabetes but was lucky enough to have solid health coverage, he said.
"Caring for him made me very sensitive to the fact that not all senior citizens are that fortunate," said Galligan. More widespread coverage by the state health care plan and the possibility for state and local governments to band together and negotiate prescription drug prices are other solutions Galligan proposed.
As a former medevac Black Hawk pilot in the Army, he said, he understands the needs of first-responders such as firefighters and police officers. He said he would like to see employees in these fields covered for medial care at any facility they prefer if they are being treated for job-related injuries. The Northern Virginia region, he said, faces threats of terrorism that other parts of the state do not. "Our first-responders are world-renowned, and I want to protect that quality."
The local issue that will have the biggest impact on the 39th District, he said, is the relocation of the 23,000 jobs to the area under the Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) Act, which "will have a massive impact" on the already-crowded local infrastructure. His service in the Army and continuing service in the National Guard help qualify him to advocate local interests during the preparations for the move, he said. Galligan said he will be "a credible source when approaching the Army" to discuss the matter. He said he would like to bring all of the project’s stakeholders to a summit to discuss issues related to the Fort Belvoir expansion.
Galligan said his combination of both military and volunteer experience makes him "uniquely qualified" in this race. O’Brien remains in the Army Reserves, and Barker has been involved in extensive volunteer work. Galligan also noted that he is the only candidate who has worked on Capitol Hill, where he was a legislative director to a Democratic congressman for two years.
He said he was pleased that among his supporters, who include Arlington Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, former Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Kathleen Seefeldt and Arlington Treasurer Frank O’Leary, are two of the only three politicians who have unseated Republican incumbents to represent Fairfax County at the state level — Chap Petersen and Leslie Byrne. The third, Del. Mark Sickles (D-43), has remained neutral regarding the race.
"We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve assembled pretty much the same coalition that Jim Webb assembled here last year," said Galligan. "I really think this primary will come down to who has the best chance of winning."
"I just want somebody who I believe is going to win," said Byrne, who was a U.S. representative before serving in the Virginia State Senate. "I think he’s the strongest candidate." Byrne said she worked with Galligan on his last campaign and that he had shown himself to be a well-organized, hard worker who "knew what had to be done." She said his military background and his stance on issues such as economic fairness and health care reform made him a strong candidate.
Galligan has lived most of his life in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, except when he was on active military duty and when he was earning his undergraduate degree in government from the College of William & Mary.