On Nov. 5, 2019, Loudoun County voters will elect nine supervisors, including a chairman at large, four state senators, seven delegates, a commonwealth’s attorney, sheriff, treasurer and commissioner of the revenue. The clerk of the circuit court serves an eight-year term ending in 2023 and is not on the ballot. Several of the state senate and delegate districts include other counties and cities.
The chairman’s formal duties are to preside over the Board of Supervisors, set the agenda for board meetings and represent the county at official functions.
Four elected officials are already running or considering a campaign for chairman, including the incumbent Chairman Phyllis Randall (D), Catoctin District Supervisor Geary Higgins (R), Blue Ridge District School Board Member Jill Turgeon and Treasurer Roger Zurn (R).
It’s early. Depending on events, any of these candidates could win.
Assuming Ms. Randall is unopposed for the Democratic nomination, the initial drama will come in the race for the Republican nomination.
Roger Zurn served as the Sterling supervisor from 1990 to 1995, when he was elected treasurer, and is serving his fifth term. He is popular and has high name recognition. Although Mr. Zurn has not made a final decision, if he runs he will be the establishment Republican candidate. He will raise more money than other Republican candidates, mostly from local business interests.
Elected to the School Board in 2011 and re-elected in 2015, Jill Turgeon, who is definitely running, is a former Loudoun teacher married to a current Loudoun teacher. She is known for adhering to her traditional values and her willingness to listen. Mrs. Turgeon will be the conservative Republican candidate. She has early support from some members of the newly formed conservative women’s group, Loudoun Inspire. Party volunteers are crucial to winning the Republican nomination.
In his second term as Catoctin District Supervisor, Geary Higgins is respected within the Republican Party for his honesty, integrity and sense of fairness. Prior to being elected to the board in 2011, Geary served on the School Board as the Catoctin representative from 2000 to 2004. He is well-liked and has a reputation as a strong conservative. Geary has not made a final decision on running.
Virginia law allows political parties to select how their candidates will be nominated.
Loudoun Republicans will probably decide to hold a convention in April or May of 2019 to choose their candidates. A convention isn’t about ideology, money or issues—it’s about signing up registered voters as delegates, then hounding them to spend a boring day voting for politicians rather than going to Costco or their child’s soccer game.
A tennis player serving to win is said to “have the match on their racquet.”
The 2019 chairman’s race is Mrs. Randall’s to win or lose depending on the vigor of her campaign.
After winning in 2015, Mrs. Randall imposed a two-year fundraising moratorium on herself so she could focus on the County, not being re-elected. The moratorium ended Jan. 1, 2018.
An early 2018 political barometer reading will come from seeing how much money Mrs. Randall now raises and from whom. A large campaign war chest scares off opponents and creates an aura of certainty. A bad campaign finance report invites opponents and can be seen as weakness.
The 2019 election in Loudoun County will be the local political equivalent of Armageddon. All legislative and local offices, except for the clerk of court, will be on the ballot. Both parties will likely field strong candidates. Unprecedented special interest campaign money will be donated to local campaigns.
Two legislative races could turn the whole election. Assuming Sen. Dick Black runs for re-election, the race for the 13th state senate district seat will be fiercely contested, drawing national media attention and money. If Randy Minchew runs to reclaim the delegate seat he lost last year to Wendy Gooditis, the race in the 10th district will be expensive with reams of mail, social media and television ads. The combined area covered by the 13th state senate district and 10th district delegate seat includes all of western Loudoun, Leesburg and most of central Loudoun. The down-ballot votes of new and infrequent, but energized, voters who turn out in these two races will probably decide who wins the races for chairman, district supervisors and constitutional officers.
2019 will be a riveting political year, and then comes the Presidential election in 2020.
Originally published on the Loudoun Times-Mirror