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An Exaggeration or an Untruth?

Amy Gardner

Democrat J. Chapman Petersen, who is seeking to unseat Fairfax state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R) in what is widely viewed as one of the most competitive races in Virginia this year, put the Fairfax Education Association in a tough spot at a candidates forum Sunday at which he claimed that the teacher group endorsed Davis only because she is the incumbent.

"I don't have the FEA endorsement because I'm not an incumbent," Petersen told the audience at Temple Rodef Shalom Sunday morning. "It's funny -- the president of the FEA said, 'I'll come to every single one of your fundraisers, and I'll write you a personal check, but understand that we can't go against an incumbent that meets the minimum score.' Our children deserve better than the minimum score. If I'm elected, you're going to get better than the minimum score."

Davis, who carries a 100 percent effectiveness rating from the Virginia Education Association, quickly cried foul over Petersen's remarks. And FEA president Leonard Bumbaca said he never told Petersen that he would support him personally.

Bumbaca said he told Petersen that he was sorry the FEA could not support both candidates, because both have high ratings from the VEA. During his four years in the House of Delegates and as a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2005, Petersen did earn the endorsement of the FEA. Bumbaca said he has personally supported Petersen in the past.

But Bumbaca said: "Our support of her is unequivocal. She has taken a lot of heat for her votes in a party that is not very tolerant of dissent. The conversation I had with Chap Petersen is that I regretted that we were having to make a choice between two people. It sounds to me that he took it a little further."

Petersen said all he was doing was pointing out that Davis received the endorsement merely because she is the incumbent, and that the two candidates' records on supporting education are otherwise identical.

But Davis said Petersen was insinuating that Davis has a weaker record than he, which is not true.
"This is deeply concerning to me, that he would use the president of the FEA's name publicly and indicate that this man said things that he didn't say," Davis said.

By Amy Gardner  |  October 16, 2007; 6:26 PM ET
Categories:  Amy Gardner , Debates , Election 2007  
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