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Democrat enters state senate race in southside, says Saslaw's wrong on his chances

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors Chairman Henry Davis Jr. said he's received an apology from the office of Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) over comments Saslaw made indicating there'd be no Democratic candidate in an special election to fill a senate seat vacated by the election of Sen. Robert Hurt (R) to the U.S. Congress.

Davis, a Chatham attorney who was elected as an independent to the board of supervisors, has scheduled a formal announcement of his campaign as a Democrat for the seat for Friday.

"They apologized for not checking out what was going on, before telling you all what was not going on," Davis said.

He rejected comments from Saslaw indicating that a Democrat has little chance of winning the conservative district and it would be a waste of party money to pursue the seat. ("I know what we can do and what we can't do,'' Saslaw said of the district.)

"He's wrong," Davis said. "I know it because I'm on the ground, at the doors here. And he's up in wherever. Arlington or Fairfax. He's looking at an old map of this thing."

But Davis said he harbors no bitterness toward the state Democratic party--he said he'd appreciate their support but doesn't need it. He said he's already got volunteers and contributors lined up.

"I told them I was very comfortable with that. I'm a pragmatist--the last thing you're going to hear me do is run around and say, 'I'm going to win, I'm going to win, I'm going to win,'" he said. "We've got the people we need to call and canvas. The thing about down here--what Dick Saslaw doesn't understand about down here--is we have people who help you for nothing. You don't have to pay people to do things."

Davis said he knows a lot of people through his 37 years as a local lawyer and his 11 years on the board of supervisors. He said he's pro-gun, anti-abortion and against tax increases. He also opposes mining uranium in the region and the privatization of state-run liquor stores. And he promised to attend local board of supervisors and city council meetings in the region.

Davis said a Democrat might have a better than anticipated shot at the job because Republicans are split over their nominee. Four Republicans have announced they are seeking the job--a fifth remains a possibility.

"The Republicans, they sense that they've got an easy easy easy win, and everybody wants to get that freebie," Davis said. "It's like when you tell people at 3 a.m. that Wal-Mart 's going to be selling $300 televisions for $50 in the morning. They all line up. But the thing is, there's only one television."

Brian Coy, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, called Davis a "good Democrat who's served Virginia for a long time."

"We're thrilled he's entered the race," Coy said. He said once the Democratic field is set (there are rumors a second Democrat may enter the race as well), the party will coordinate with its candidate to determine how it can help.

"Let's wait until all the candidates are in the race, and then we'll make decisions based on the facts," he said. " But we're very pleased he's in the race and wish him well."

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | November 11, 2010; 4:21 PM ET
Categories:  Liquor privatization, Robert Hurt, Rosalind Helderman  
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