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Byrne, Puckett, Petersen Choose Sides in LG Race

Tim Craig

Former U.S. Rep. Leslie L. Byrne and state senators J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) announced today they are supporting Jon Bowerbank in next year's race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

"Jon Bowerbank represents the kind of Democrat who will bring practical results for all Virginians, and who will always fight for what is right in Richmond," said Byrne, an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2005 who also lost her bid for the Democratic nomination for Congress this year in the 11th District.

Petersen said Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, will stand up for "the people against the powerful special interests." Puckett, who lost his race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 2005 to Byrne, called Bowerbank "extremely impressive and well-qualified."

The endorsements, the first of the 2009 race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, are not unexpected. Bowerbank, who had been a major donor to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY.), gave Byrne $4,600 for her congressional race this spring. Petersen is also closely aligned with Byrne. Puckett and Bowerbank live in the same county. Puckett's son, Joseph, is Bowerbank's political director.

But Bowerbank has now been endorsed by three former candidates for lieutenant governor - Petersen also ran for the job in 2005. The endorsements could also set up an interesting battle in Fairfax County next year because Petersen and Byrne have strong ties to the liberal wing of the county party.

Bowerbank may face Finance Secretary Jody W. Wagner in the Democratic primary. Wagner is a member of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) administration. Kaine endorsed Fairfax County Board Chairman Gerald E.Connolly, who is closely associated with the establishment wing of the party, over Byrne in the June 10 primary.

By Tim Craig  |  July 25, 2008; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2009 , Tim Craig  
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