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Herrity still undecided on Congressional bid

So what side of the bed did Fairfax County Supervisor Pat S. Herrity wake up on this morning?

It matters because Herrity (R-Springfield) is still seriously considering throwing his hat into a race to unseat first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly in Northern Virginia's 11th Congressional District, as calls from the region's Republican Party faithful for him to enter the contest intensify. And it appears Herrity's morning routine is playing a part in the still-undecided supervisor's decision.

A few weeks ago, Herrity told a Washington Post reporter that on that particular day he was "leaning against" running. On Tuesday, he said things might be different and that it all "depended on how he felt on that day, on which side of the bed I wake up on."

A run by Herrity, 49, a Springfield accountant who followed in his father's footsteps in 2007 and was elected a Fairfax supervisor, has been rumored for months. With one of the most well-known names in Fairfax politics, Herrity would be a welcome addition for Republican Party officials who view Connolly, 59, as a vulnerable incumbent in the midterm elections.

"I think the more competitive the better and I know a lot of people, including Pat, see 2010 as potentially a once-in-a-lifetime event for Republicans," said Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee.

Bedell said "obstacles relating to [Herrity's] family" remain and a decision, while seemingly more likely than it was a few short weeks ago, is not a done deal. Herrity knows all too well he would need to get in the race soon in order to build up enough momentum -- and cash -- to wage a formidable campaign.

But despite a Monday online report on Not Larry Sabato, a popular statewide political blog, indicating that Herrity had gone from considering a run to entering the race, Herrity said he still hasn't committed.

"I'm considering a lot of factors right now and I will have a decision as soon as I work all of those out," Herrity said.

Herrity said he had a self-imposed deadline to decide on whether he would run and that it had passed last week. "I know I need to decide soon," he said. "An awful lot of people out there right now want me to run but this isn't about them. This is about me and the people of the 11th District."

The son of the late former board chairman John F. "Jack" Herrity, who served 16 years on the county board in the 1970s and 80s, the younger Herrity surprised friends and family when he jumped at a chance in 2007 to run for supervisor in Springfield, a year after his father had died.

Less than a year later, Herrity challenged Sharon S. Bulova (D) in a special election race for chairman to the Democratically-controlled Board of Supervisors. He lost to Bulova last February by 1,200 votes out of nearly 108,000 cast.

But, this time, Herrity has a lot more to consider. His entrance into the race could set up a possible primary battle with Keith S. Fimian, the Oakton businessman who was soundly defeated by Connolly in 2008. Fimian, 53, announced his decision to run again this summer.

Herrity said he spoke to Fimian on Monday night and that he assured him that he wouldn't "find out about his decision from a blog."

So if Herrity enters the race, will Fiman bow out?

"No way," Fiman said. "I'm in this to win and to beat Gerry Connolly."

Among the things Herrity is also considering, according to Republican officials: If Herrity loses, it could leaving lasting damage on his political career, as it would be his second loss since 2008. Fimian says he expects Herrity to run for board chairman again in 2011. "Fairfax County needs strong leadership," he said.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) endorsed Fimian, a sign that the National Republican Congressional Committee might like the businessman and his penchant for throwing large amounts of money into his own fundraising pot. The GOP might also figure that Connolly is a tough incumbent, the safest of the four Virginia congressional Democrats facing competitive re-election bids, and that it doesn't want to throw too much money at any candidate's feet.

During 2008, Fimian lent himself $350,000. GOP folks say he could spend $1 million on a repeat battle with Connolly. When asked about the figure, Fimian coyly said, "We'll see."

And we'll see which side Herrity wakes up on.

By Derek Kravitz  |  December 16, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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