Gartlan Reverses Endorsement For Byrne
Former state Sen. Joseph V. Gartlan Jr., for 28 years one of the most liberal voices of the General Assembly, has endorsed Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, for the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional District.
The endorsement provides a boost for Connolly in an area where he needs it: among liberal party activists, with whom his principal opponent, former state senator Leslie L. Byrne, has strong roots. Such voters will be crucial in the June 10 primary.
Gartlan's endorsement is notable for two reasons: As a liberal, he is ideologically close to Byrne. And that leads to point No. 2, which is that Gartlan had already endorsed Byrne, but he changed his mind after Connolly got in the race.
"Experiences that I've had with him on some county matters affecting my area persuaded me to endorse him," said Gartlan, 82, who lives in Lorton and represented 36th Senate District, encompassing Mount Vernon and the far southeast corner of the county. The seat is currently held by Linda T. "Toddy" Puller (D).
Gartlan said he has known both Byrne and Connolly for many years, and he acknowledged that he and Byrne "probably think 99 and 44/100ths alike on most things."
But he added: "It was more a question of Gerry's enormous capability. I think he's probably been one of the most effective chairman of the board in the history of Fairfax County. And I think the Congress could use that kind of talent."
Byrne's web site still lists Gartlan's endorsement. Now, so does Connolly's, with this headline: "State Senator Joe Gartlan Withdraws Endorsement of Byrne, Joins the Connolly Team."
"That's one of the aspects of a primary," said Byrne campaign manager Joe Fox. "These things are fluid."
April 8, 2008; 5:53 PM ET
Categories: Amy Gardner , Gerald E. Connolly , Leslie L. Byrne
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