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Column: 500 Turn Out for Bryan Porter

Launching campaign for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

— In one of the more memorable trials in Alexandria’s Circuit Court, the young lawyer was making his first major murder prosecution. In a blue business suit, power tie and sporting new cufflinks he cut the figure of a veteran trial lawyer.

On that date, the courtroom was filled to capacity. When asked if prosecutor and defense attorney were ready Bryan Porter stood eagerly and in a firm voice answered “Yes, Your Honor.” If there was any anxiety, it wasn’t seen this day in the Franklin P. Backus Courthouse on King Street.

The former Alexandria police officer presented the case for the Commonwealth with fact after undisputed fact. Following a brief lunch break it was rather obvious the local defendant was going to be on the losing end. He was, too, and sent to a long time penitentiary sentence.

While Porter was all business he broke out into a smile. His success wasn’t spoiled amid the handshakes and congratulations.

From that time, Porter has tried some 800 felony cases, many misdemeanors and handles most of the murder and violent crime cases before the Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.

On Saturday past, Porter threw a party in Del Ray’s Pork Barrel restaurant to announce his candidacy for the city’s Commonwealth’s Attorney. S. Randolph Sengel, longtime chief prosecutor, will retire from the office he’s held for three decades. His term ends at the end of the year.

Porter praised Sengel for his leadership. “The city is losing a sterling public official.”

He pledged if elected, “you’ll elect someone who believes in protecting the people. I give my word to prosecute with humility. And I will vigorously work to have policies that reduce crime.”

Porter wondered if he’d have a crowd. He was more than pleased. The turnout was about 500, including Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, Mayor Bill Euille, new Vice Mayor Alison Silverberg, City Council members Justin Wilson, Del Pepper, Tim Lovain and John Alexander. Del. Rob Krupicka, a former councilman, was also joined by Dak Hardwick, chairman of the Alexandria Democratic Committee.

Joining the local throng were many local business leaders and Benjamin Katz of the Virginia Attorney General’s office. He is a former prosecutor in Alexandria.

Lawhorne will be campaigning for reelection as Porter seeks his first in the Nov. 5 election.

Sengel has been one of the most influential political leaders in the city and state and will be a major player in the coming race.

“Bryan is an excellent trial attorney,” Sengel said. “He’s lived the life of law enforcement and has been blessed to work with our staff of high standards.”

Lawhorne will be seeking his third four-year term as sheriff. He praised Bryan and his family: “John and Bonnie Porter taught their family great values and they live those values.” Bryan’s brother Scott is an assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington.

Porter, the candidate, is 42, married to Karen and graduated from the city’s T.C. Williams High School, George Mason University and the George Mason Law School. While studying for his law degree he worked with the Alexandria Police Department after service with the Metropolitan Transit Police.

For the occasion, Porter also donned a business suit. It was evident he was ready for the political business.