The 52nd House race is shaping up to be a knock-down fight with both candidates matched in fund-raising and in a dead heat according to self-commissioned polls.
Republican Jeff Frederick’s campaign accused Democrat Charlie Taylor’s campaign of stealing dozens of political signs Friday. The action is not an unusual occurrence for election season, but Taylor’s camp in turn asked what happened to that day’s newspapers that carried a story about Frederick’s business.
“I just kind of gave up,” said Derrick Walker, a Dumfries resident and Taylor supporter, on trying to find a copy of the Potomac News along U.S. 1 on Friday.
That edition of the Potomac News had a story on lawsuits against Frederick’s GXS Strategies, an Internet services company.
Walker said there is usually a stack of the Potomac News at the Citgo on U.S. 1. He tried another store and found no papers there either.
“I felt that it was rather odd,” he said.
Potomac News circulation director Bob Spessard said carriers did not report anything unusual on Friday and no stores sold out.
Early Friday morning, Frederick’s campaign manager Matt Robbins said more than 60 signs placed along U.S. 1 were stolen or ripped up hours after they had been placed.
He called Democrat Charlie Taylor’s campaign manager Matt Harrison to complain. Harrison said his staff have been told if they are caught taking signs, they will be fired.
Harrison also filed a police report Monday after 25 Taylor signs were stolen also.
“This is all really juvenile,” Harrison said. “I have to really believe it is nobody from either of these two campaigns.”
The contest between Frederick, 28, and Taylor, 49, pretty much sums up the differences between Democrats and Republicans statewide.
Taylor highlights the state’s shortfall in its commitment to public education and social services. He supports tax restructuring that cuts some taxes, like real estate taxes, but offsets those cuts with raises elsewhere. There is a Democratic proposal to raise the tobacco tax statewide to generate $360 million.
Frederick is against any tax increases and wants to find savings by cutting waste. He has signed the no-tax pledge.
The 52nd District tends to be moderate in how it decides these philosophical debates.
Taylor spent $4,737 to conduct an August poll that found 35 percent of voters in favor of Frederick, 32 percent for Taylor and 33 percent undecided. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent, which puts the two in a statistical dead heat, Harrison said.
After a description of the candidates, Taylor came out on top with 55 percent for him, 33 percent for Frederick and 12 percent undecided, Harrison said.
“We don’t rely on polls. We rely on the grassroots strategy,” Robbins said.
Indeed, Frederick showed an impressive street-level effort in the June primary when he upset 18-year incumbent John A. “Jack” Rollison.
But in that win, Frederick was aided by a Democratic primary the same day that siphoned off voters who likely would have voted for Rollison but could not because participation was limited to only one primary.
Frederick beat Rollison by a 427-vote margin; Democrat Hilda M. Barg relied on Democrats in the same area to give her a 482-vote margin of victory for her run on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.
Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner is aiding Taylor with money from his political action committee and about 10 canvassers who go door-to-door for Taylor everyday.
Warner attended a fund-raiser at a Southbridge home Sept. 30 and raised just under $7,000 for Taylor, Harrison said.
Taylor’s poll found Warner to have a 59 percent job approval rating in the district, Harrison said.
Gibbons said Frederick’s canvassers are all volunteers.
“If the governor wants to buy this race, there’s nothing we can do to stop him,” Gibbons said.
Not that Republicans are going to give up the money race, however
Frederick had a fund-raiser Tuesday night attended by Sen. George Allen, R-Va.
According to their last campaign filings, Taylor raised $40,000 in July and August and finished with $18,000 in the bank Aug. 31. Frederick raised $37,640 and finished with $23,167.