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UPDATED: Senate special elections shape up

Rosalind Helderman

There is still no word on Democrats who are interested in running for the soon-to-be-empty Virginia Beach Senate seat being vacated by the election of Ken Stolle as sheriff.

One possibility is that the Democrats might focus almost all of their attention -- and cash -- on the special election for the Northern Virginia seat being opened by the election of Ken Cuccinelli as attorney general. With the Democrats' last remaining bit of control in Richmond possibly hanging in the balance, the party might decide that it should focus all its resources on the Fairfax County seat where the chances of a win might be better.

And who will the Democratic nominee for the seat be? All signs continue to point to a likely candidacy by Del. David Marsden, although Marsden said Tuesday that he will make no final decisions on the race until this weekend. He said the Democrats are polling the district, testing several names.

He would not reveal all of them but did confirm that they include his own name, 2007 Senate candidate Janet Oleszek and former delegate Chuck Caputo. Oleszek said last week that she would not run for the seat because she believed she was not the preferred candidate of party leaders.

Marsden said he wanted to see the results of the polling before jumping into the race. But he said he believes he is "eminently qualified" for a run at the Senate, and said it is critical that the party make the right decision so that there is balanced government in Richmond.

"The Senate is in a position to be a player, if the Democrats can maintain control to make sure we don't go down too extreme a path," he said. Though Marsden's delegate district includes 10 of the 14 precincts in the Senate district, he would have to move into the district to run, a change he said he is prepared to make.

Without the Fairfax seat, the Democrats' hold just a one-seat majority, a margin that could easily be erased if McDonnell were to persuade a Democrat in a vulnerable district to join his administration.

There are three Republicans running for the seat: Marianne Horinko, a former George W. Bush appointee who runs a consulting firm; Steve Hunt, a former member of the Fairfax County School Board; and Will Nance, executive director of Greenspring Retirement Community.

UPDATE: A correction to this item. Ten of the 14 precincts that make up Marsden's delegate district are also located in the Cuccinelli senate district. Per the Fairfax County Board of Elections, there 39 precincts total in the 37th senate district. Thank you to Ben Tribbett for spotting the error.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 11, 2009; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  Election 2009 , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Not to nitpick but Marsden's has 10 precincts inside the Senate district and there are more than 14. In fact, his seat that he holds now might have 14 precincts. Is that what you mean?

Posted by: fauxfoe | November 11, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Marianne Horinko is an excellent candidate and would represent the 37th district well. She would bring a fresh voice to the General Assembly and would be focused on issues important to those in the 37th district--the economy, jobs, transportation and education. Check out her site at:

Posted by: friendsofmarianne | November 12, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'm a bit surprised that nobody is focusing on the fact that Marsden barely, and I mean barely, held on to his delegate seat last week. If Marsden is the top of the heap candidate the Dems have, I'm not sure that bodes very well. This isn't a guy who's soundly won over his own delegate district even though he's a two term incumbent who ran against a Republican nobody.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | November 13, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

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