Week in Alexandria

Week in Alexandria

September Special

For more than a month, voters in the 45th District have been waiting for Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell to call a special election to fill the seat vacacted by former Del. David Englin (D-45), who resigned to put his family back together after announcing he had been unfaithful in his marriage.

Now, the wait is over. And it’s yielded quite a surprise.

Instead of adding the special election to the November ballot, when a maximum number of Democrats will be at the polls for the presidential ticket, the Republican governor chose a different path. In a written statement issued Wednesday, McDonnell said he will issue a writ of election on July 30. That gives parties five days to name their candidates, which is Saturday Aug. 4.

Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

“I believe we must hold these special elections as quickly as is possible under Virginia law,” said McDonnell. “Having these special elections on September 4th will allow for the citizens of these districts to have full representation and give the new Senator and Delegate time to fully prepare for the 2013 legislative session.”

More Than Money

Money is always important in politics. But in the Republican primary for governor, the ability to raise large amounts of money might not be as significant because of the party’s recent decision to spike the statewide primary in favor of a convention.

Leading the race for cash in Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, In the first half of 2012, he raised almost $100,000. And he’s got $1.5 million cash on hand. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, on the other hand, has raised about half as much money — $540,000 in the first half of the year. And he has about half as much cash on hand with $630,000. That’s an indication that the big-money donors are with the lieutenant governor.

“He’s the establishment candidate,” said Toni-Michelle Travis, George Mason professor of political science. “And the party would perhaps like to see him be the nominee versus the Tea Party more extreme people.”

Last month, the Republican Central Committee voted to hold a convention rather than a statewide primary to determine a nominee. That means money may have a reduced influence in this race because television time and large-scale direct-mail operations won’t be needed.

“Organizing for a convention is much more of a grassroots person-to-person effort,” said Chris Marston, former chairman of the Alexandria Republican City Committee. “It’s not a paid effort.”

Despite the imbalance in the recent fundraising reports, many are predicting a victory for the attorney general.

“I think Cuccinelli is still a heavy favorite to be the nominee,” said University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Kyle Kondik. “And I don’t think money means much.”

Contraband Landmark

One of Alexandria’s long-neglected cemeteries has now been added to the Virginia Landmarks Register. Earlier this month, the Department of Historic Resources issued a list of 17 new sites for the list — and the Alexandria Contraband and Freedman Cemetery made the cut. The graveyard is the only known burial ground in the United States to be established and administered by the federal government for the internment African Americans during the Civil War.