FitzSimmonds enters race for 29th District

And they’re off! The races for General Assembly elections in 2003 started Tuesday — just a week after the last election — with conservative Bob FitzSimmonds declaring he will run for the 29th District Virginia Senate seat a second time.

“I’m standing here before you today offering new leadership, a fresh vision and new energy to represent the 29th District,” he said, speaking before a crowd of 75 people at Grace E. Metz Middle School in Manassas.

In 1999, FitzSimmonds beat Buck Waters in the party primary to run against Sen. Charles J. Colgan, but he lost with 42 percent of the vote to Colgan’s 58 percent.

“This district this year you have more Republicans,” said Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, on the 29th District redrawn by the GOP majority in 2001.

FitzSimmonds also pointed to the fact that 61 percent of the Senate district voted against the sales tax referendum, which Colgan supported.

Colgan has not said whether he will run again in 2003. He is the most senior member of the Senate with seven terms, after his friend Madison Marye, a fellow Democrat, resigned his seat in August. Conservative House Delegate Jay O’Brien, R-40th District, won Marye’s former seat last Tuesday.

Colgan said he will not decide until January. “I’m just not going to make up my mind until then,” he said.

FitzSimmonds, 50, lives in Gainesville with his wife Debbie and four homeschooled children. Pro-life, anti-tax and for school choice, FitzSimmonds is in step with conservative delegates Robert G. Marshall, R-13th District, L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-31st District, and Richard Black of Loudoun. He now works as Lingamfelter’s legislative aide.

Speakers at the announcement painted a picture of a growing conservative movement — in a cafeteria down the hall from a black and white “In God We Trust” sign, the product of the work of one of their own, Marshall. Republicans won seats and more control of Congress this year, held the line of governorships, and are in control of more than half of all seats in state legislatures for the first time in half a century, they said.

Party members across the spectrum were in attendance including School Board members — officially nonpartisan but still party faithful — and Prince William Board of County Supervisors chairman Sean T. Connaughton, R-At large, who appointed FitzSimmonds to the community services board.

“He’s always been a solid Republican so that attracts a broad section of the party,” said the School Board’s Woodbridge representative Steve Keen, who ran the announcement.

FitzSimmonds says he will fight to get a greater share of dollars back from Richmond, not run up the white flag to rural delegates, and he will never support a tax increase.

“I have to say it is my opinion that Sen. Colgan is at the core of the problem in the Virginia Senate,” FitzSimmonds said. “All the times he has served, the conditions in Virginia have worsened, particularly in Northern Virginia.”

If Colgan does choose to run again in 2003, he had $17,248 on hand as of the last filing in June. FitzSimmonds had $4,460. Both will assuredly raise much more in the race, but FitzSimmonds said even if he is outspent he can win, like the anti-referendum campaign.

There are Republicans who do like Colgan. Active in the Catholic community, Colgan is pro-life and teams with Harry J. Parrish on fund-raisers and also coordinates with him on legislation. Clerk of Courts Dave Mabie says he will run for the Republican nomination only if Colgan does not run.

And some at the FitzSimmonds announcement said their appearance does not mean an endorsement with the full party slate not yet set.

FitzSimmonds questioned how Colgan can be a contributor to the conservative movement when he is in the wrong party. FitzSimmonds said Colgan gives with one hand — he voted for the partial-birth abortion ban this year — but took with the other — he supports Gov. Mark R. Warner “to the tee,” and Warner vetoed the ban, citing its vulnerability to court challenge.

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