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Republicans hope to gain House seats
Speaker Howell aims to gain three GOP members

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Date published: 11/1/2009

BY CHELYEN DAVIS

As Election Day nears and polls show the three Republicans at the top of the ticket ahead of their Democratic opponents, the GOP is hoping to reap some coattail benefits in House races.

All 100 House of Delegates seats are up for election this year. Earlier in the campaign, Democrats had hoped to build on their gains of the past few election cycles by picking up a few more seats. Buoyed by last year's Democratic victories and their control of the state Senate, they even talked optimistically about potentially regaining control of the House, where Republicans have held the majority for a decade.

No one is talking about Democrats winning a House majority anymore. Instead, Republicans are hoping to win back a few seats themselves.

The Republican candidates at the top of the ticket--Bob McDonnell for governor, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling running for re-election and state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli for attorney general--are all polling well ahead of their Democratic opponents. That gives Republicans hope for down-ticket House races.

House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, says Republicans hope to net three more seats.

The current split is 43 Democrats, 53 Republicans, two independents and two vacant seats.

"We're doing very well with our challengers in Virginia Beach, with a lot of our challengers in Northern Virginia, and scattered around the state," Howell said. "I believe the McDonnell surge is going to help with some of our candidates."

Howell has devoted most of his campaign funding to assisting Republican candidates.

His PAC, Dominion Leadership Trust, has spent more than $1 million this year, mostly on donations to Republican House candidates or paying for consultants, polling, mailers and other campaign expenses.

Howell has also spent about $221,000 of his own campaign funds on similar activities.

His two campaign accounts have also raked in another $685,000, mostly from corporate PACs and other candidates, in donations just since Oct. 1.

Howell does have an opponent, Independent Green candidate Craig Ennis. Ennis also ran against Howell in 2007, winning 457 votes, or about 3 percent.

Ennis, a Stafford plumber's apprentice, reported $130 in his campaign account as of Oct. 21.

In the Northern Neck's 99th District, Democrat Albert Pollard is being challenged by Republican Catherine Crabill. Otherwise, however, the Fredericksburg region's House seats have no major-party opposition.

In the 30th District, Madison County Republican Del. Ed Scott is being challenged by independent candidate Matthew Carson.

Neither Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, nor Del. Bobby Orrock, R-Caroline, has an opponent this year.

The election is Tuesday.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028
Email: cdavis@freelancestar.com


CRAIG ENNIS

Political party: Independent Green Political experience: Unsuccessful candidate for House of Delegates in 2007 and Congress in 2008. Age: 35 Family: Divorced, one son Occupation: New Horizon Electrical Education: Attended Stafford-area schools; received GED in 2005.

Web site: craigennis.com WILLIAM 'BILL' HOWELL

Political party: Republican Political experience: House of Delegates since 1987; speaker of the House since 2003 Age: 66 Family: Wife, Cessie; two sons, seven grandchildren Occupation: Attorney Education: Law degree, University of Virginia; bachelor's degree in business administration, University of Richmond, 1964

Web site: williamjhowell .org