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A Virginia GOP Star on the Horizon?

Tim Craig

In the race to replace retiring Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (R-Fairfax), Republican Dave Hunt is showing surprising strength in his match up against Democrat Margaret Vanderhye.

Campaign finance reports released Tuesday show Hunt raised $118,000 in July and August and has $90,000 in the bank. Vanderhye raised $104,000 during the same period and has $88,000 in the bank.

Callahan represents the McLean and Great Falls area, where many voters have sided with the Democrats in recent statewide elections. The race to succeed Callahan holds tremendous symbolism for both parties because he is the last elected Republican to represent a district that is mostly inside the Beltway.

Because of the district's increasing Democratic tilt, Vanderhye is favored to win the race. A Vanderhye victory will mark the end of Democrats' decades- long effort to purge Alexandria, Arlington and the northeastern tip of Fairfax County of GOP leaders.

But Republican operatives say Democrats may be underestimating Hunt, who they say is running a very strong campaign. If Hunt pulls off an upset, look for him to become the poster child for how a Republican can still win in Northern Virginia's inner suburbs.

At the very least, Hunt's fundraising report indicates that House Democratic leaders may have to pour some resources into the district, which means they will have less money to spend in races in more Republican-leaning areas.

Hunt, of Great Falls, lost a state Senate bid in 2003 to Janet Howell.

By Tim Craig  |  September 18, 2007; 5:35 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2007 , Tim Craig  
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