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Connolly Up 20 Points in Poll

Steve Fehr

New polling by Fairfax County Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly continues to show him with a significant lead over Leslie L. Byrne in the race for the 11th District Democratic Congressional nomination.

The poll of likely Democratic primary voters, first reported yesterday by the Congressional newspaper The Hill, had Connolly ahead of Byrne by a 20-point margin, 45-25. That is just slightly below the 23-point spread Connolly claimed in a January poll. Both surveys were conducted by Lake Research Partners.

It shows two other opponents, Doug Denneny and Lori Alexander, trailing far behind with one percent each.

The latest poll reports a strong job approval rating for Connolly, with 61 percent of voters crediting him with an "excellent" or "good" performance. The Connolly survey placed Byrne's voter rating for her single term in Congress (1993-95) at 41 percent "excellent" or "good."

Byrne campaign manager Joe Fox dismissed the poll, and said his research still shows Byrne leading by about 10 points. "Their numbers didn't make sense a month ago, and they don't make any sense now," said Fox, referring to the January Connolly survey.

He added that it was preposterous for Connolly to compare his approval rating for an office he currently occupies to Byrne's for a post she last held more than a dozen years ago. "It makes no sense and the only reason to do it is to mislead," Fox said.

Meanwhile, the 11th District Democratic Committee has announced plans to sponsor four candidate debates before the June 10 primary. Chairman George Burke said one would be held in each of the district's three principal jurisdictions, Fairfax and Prince William counties, and Fairfax City. A fourth will be carried on Fairfax television channel 10. Dates and sites will be announced later.

The Denneny campaign sparked a minor skirmish earlier this month when it said that it had accepted an invitation to an April 14 debate at George Mason University to be sponsored by the Fairfax County Young Democrats. The only problem, the group's leadership said, was that the "invitation" was nothing more than an initial discussion of the idea, and that there had been no consultation with other campaigns about scheduling or a site.

For the moment, Byrne and Connolly are the only candidates assured of places on the ballot because their petitions have been certified by the committee to the state board of elections. Burke said Denneny and Alexander have until 5 p.m. Friday to submit their materials. He said both have indicated that they will meet the deadline.

Burke said position on the ballot is determined by the order in which petitions and other paperwork are certified. Because Byrne and Connolly submitted their materials at the same time, ordering was decided by a coin flip on March 25. Byrne's husband, Larry, represented his wife and Connolly stalwart John Jennison, covered for the chairman. Jennison called tails. It came up heads, which means Byrne will be listed first.

By Steve Fehr  |  April 9, 2008; 3:33 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Election 2008/Congress , Gerald E. Connolly  
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This just in - Byrne to run for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors when she looses June Primary.

She is currently undecided on which office she will run for after that.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Connolly release the methodology of his poll? Did Byrne release her's?

Posted by: R in Fairfax | April 9, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I got called on this poll. The questions bashed Byrne on false claims. I think this is called "push polling".

Posted by: Fact Checker | April 10, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I got the polling call, too.

The first question was straight up-who would I vote for today? If Fact Checker really got polled s/he would know that-looks like s/he wasn't polled.

There were later typical poll questions that raised issues about both candidates, but it was very professional-definitely not a push poll-I've gotten my fair share of those.

I checked out this Lake Research firm, they are really well respected, so I tend to believe with what they state-not misnamed "fact checker".

Posted by: Fact Checker is Holding Back | April 10, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Fact Checker,
Connolly made public the methodology of his poll, and it was not a push poll. Connolly is a smart enough pol to know that push polls accomplish nothing and provide no meaningful info.

R in Fairfax,
No, Byrne continues to refuse to release the details of her poll. All she quotes is the difficult-to-believe results.

Posted by: John | April 10, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Key phrase in this article is "New polling by Fairfax County Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly". Neither one of the campaign polls can be believed. My hunch is that Connolly probably has a narrow lead in the race, but that it is actually much, much closer than either poll would have us believe.

Has it not become clear that trying to build an "air of invincibility" is not going to work in a Democratic primary? Voters will decide, and based on what I've seen over the last few years, voters in the 11th like both these candidates. However, Leslie Byrne is the only one fo the two that's been on a ballot before ALL these voters (including those in PWC) and WON. I think Gerry Connolly is going to be surprised on June 12th if he thinks he's 20% ahead of Leslie.

Aint' gonna happen.

Posted by: Doug in Mount Vernon | April 11, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

One of the key things I don't think is getting enough attention is the "minor skirmish" you made reference to in the post. In fact, it wasn't really even a skirmish. Doug Denneny's campaign blatantly mislead by claiming it had been invited to a non-existent debate. Instead of admitting they made a mistake, the campaign then proceeded to launch a smear campaign against the blogger that called them out on it even though his account was backed up by all the facts.

That type of behavior is completely unacceptable, especially from a candidate who promised that both he and his staff would not participate in negative campaign tactics. Denneny needs to publicly come out and admit his campaign broke that promise and make it clear that he won't tolerate that type of behavior from anyone on his campaign staff.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | April 11, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Conventional wisdom says the one who is losing goes negative first. Byrne went negative first when she paid for a swiftboating mailing against Connolly, so conventional wisdom indicates Byne is way behind.

Now there is a rumor that Byrne fired her pollster (remember the one who incredibly claimed Denenny was at 8%) and has gone with Hart Research for a negative telephone campaign.

Karl Rove style swiftboating by mail and phones. Leslie's going negative again.

Posted by: Byrne Changes Pollsters? | April 12, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

The Denneny campaign is the one that has run it's entire campaign on nothing but negativity. So far his campaign has focused its negativity on Byrne, Connolly, and bloggers. It'll be interesting to see if he eventually turns his negativity to just one of the other candidates in particular.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen | April 12, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Umm. I just looked at Denneny's website ( and I don't see a negative word about anyone?

The only negative things I see about Denneny are comments made by anonymous posters in blogs.

Posted by: Concerned about what? | April 13, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

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