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Five Republicans now interested in House race
Five Republicans now interested in House race.

Date published: 8/18/2011

By Chelyen Davis

At least five Republicans are said to be interested in running for the 56th House District.

The district, which covers all of Louisa County, a small part of Spotsylvania County, and parts of Goochland and Henrico counties, has been represented for the past decade by Del. Bill Janis.

But Janis just last week decided to step down and run instead for Henrico County commonwealth's attorney.

That decision has led to a flurry of activity among district Republicans. Candidates for the party's nomination must file by tomorrow evening; the candidate will be chosen by a four-person committee next Tuesday, which is the deadline for party nominations in all 140 legislative races.

So far, at least five people are said to be interested, and two have announced their candidacies: Louisa attorney Graven Craig and Spotsylvania Republican Chairman Steve Thomas.

Louisa County Republican Chairman Bob Arment said he has also heard of interest from Jack Manzari of Louisa; Peter Farrell, who runs an alternative energy company and is the son of Dominion CEO Tom Farrell; and David Brat, who leads the Department of Economics and Business at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch also reported that Marty Kilgore, wife of former attorney general Jerry Kilgore, may be interested.

Democrats have not yet nominated a candidate, but were scheduled to meet last night to discuss their options.

In a statement yesterday, Thomas said he is sad to see Janis retire.

"I will carry the flag for rural Virginia in the General Assembly, and will be a tireless advocate for job growth and for agriculture," Thomas said. "The new 56th District is largely rural, including Lake Anna and the [Interstate] 64 corridor; those interests need attention in the General Assembly."

Thomas, who was on the Spotsylvania Economic Development Authority for five years before resigning last week, said he would also push for more local control over land development, as well as conservative issues such as low taxes, reduced government spending and less regulation.

He said he also has a good relationship with his local tea party and can "unite conservatives to keep this seat."

The district is heavily Republican, having voted for Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009 by about 70 percent.

Craig, a personal injury attorney, is president of the Louisa Bar Association.

He said he was interested in running for the seat 10 years ago, but he lived in Fluvanna County then and the 2001 redistricting moved his home out of the district.

Craig said he's running now because "we need to make sure we have conservative influence in the House of Delegates, make sure we keep our taxes low, keep government small and keep government out of the way of the free enterprise system."

He said he does believe government should invest in infrastructure, like roads and schools, and help provide incentives to private companies to expand broadband access in rural areas like Louisa.

Chelyen Davis: 804/343-2245
Email: cdavis@freelancestar.com