In a special election where there won’t be high turnout, endorsements can have a play a bigger role than usual. At the same time, the only way they’ll really have an impact is if the person making the endorsement has a following and is willing to activate his/her base or if the endorsement is somewhat unexpected. Today we see perhaps the first endorsement that meets both of those requirements as former Republican Delegate Jim Dillard has endorsed Dave Marsden’s candidacy for Senate from the 37th District.
In a time when our economy as a whole is struggling, I think it’s extremely important for Virginians to be able to obtain a very strong education. Of course, this means that our elected officials will have to work hard to figure out a way to maintain the high quality of our public schools despite the fact that there will have to be budget cuts. In his statement announcing his candidacy for the state senate, Marsden highlighted the need to invest in our school systems. Dillard, who was a moderate Republican known for his work on education issues, also recognized the dedication Marsden has displayed to our schools and his ability to work in a bipartisan manner to create solutions.
“I'm a Republican, and I'm for Dave Marsden because he is the pragmatic, moderate leader we need for Fairfax County in these tough times," said Dillard. "Dave has shown that he can bring Republicans, Democrats and Independents together to get results and end the petty squabbling down in Richmond - especially when it comes to helping small businesses create jobs, growing our economy, holding the line on taxes and spending, and protecting our world-class public schools."
“In tough times like these, defending education budgets can be challenging, but Dave voted to protect education against billions of dollars of cuts and to support our teachers. I think the choice is clear – I encourage people of all parties to support Dave Marsden for Senate,” said Dillard.
Now that Dillard has endorsed Marsden’s candidacy, it will be very interesting to see if he’s able to convince some Republicans to vote for him in the special election on January 12. I think this is something that could be done as Dave is known as a moderate Democrat and was able to earn a lot of cross-over votes when he was re-elected to the House of Delegates in November.
The timing of this endorsement is also very interesting as it comes the day after Steve Hunt won the Republican nomination in a firehouse primary held at Centreville High School (which, for what it’s worth, is actually outside of the district). Hunt is extremely conservative and during his time on the Fairfax County School Board actually spent a significant amount of time trying to promote his right wing social agenda instead of focusing on making sure our school system remains one of the best in the country. I imagine this wasn’t lost on Dillard and while accepting Dillard’s endorsement today, Marsden definitely made it clear that he’s willing to have the voters compare his record to Hunt’s.
"I am thrilled to accept the endorsement of Delegate Jim Dillard, one of the strongest leaders Fairfax has had. I'm looking forward to finding out whether Steve Hunt agrees with me that we need to get government focusing on helping small businesses create jobs, holding the line on taxes and spending, protecting our schools, and finally addressing our traffic problem or whether he will keep saying more of the same," said Marsden.