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Republicans hope to claim Edd Houck's state Senate seat.
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BY CHELYEN DAVIS
As Virginia Republicans work this fall to regain control of the state Senate, one of the key pieces of their strategy is the 17th District.
There, the party hopes Bryce Reeves can knock off longtime incumbent Edd Houck. Republicans' hopes are bolstered by the fact that the 17th is Republican-leaning. But Houck points out that it always has been--and it has elected him seven times.
The contest in the 17th--which covers parts of Spotsylvania, Louisa, Orange, Culpeper and Albemarle counties and the city of Fredericksburg--is shaping up to be one of the marquee races of the fall's legislative elections.
With Democrats holding just a two-seat advantage in the state Senate, Republicans see a real chance to retake control of that body.
Houck is, by any measure, a strong incumbent. He's a senior senator with a seat on the powerful budget-writing Finance Committee, a former educator who's known as a fierce advocate for public schools, and he's sitting on about half a million dollars in campaign cash.
But Reeves is also a strong challenger. He has been planning this campaign for years, and kicked it off last fall. He's a conservative with tea party appeal, a former police officer and Army Ranger who can also talk business practicalities. He's taking time off from his insurance company to campaign full time--no small consideration when it comes to doing the door-knocking and hand-shaking part of campaigning.
So it's little surprise that both political parties are making a play for the seat.
Reeves has had campaign events with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose Opportunity Virginia PAC gave Reeves $50,000 last month. The only Senate candidate to receive more from McDonnell's PAC has been Bill Stanley, who's challenging Sen. Roscoe Reynolds in Southside.
The state Republican party also spent $36,000 on mailers for Reeves, and he has received $10,000 from the 7th Congressional District Republicans, according to campaign finance reports in mid-August. The next reports will be out next week.
Houck already had a sizable campaign chest and needs less help from his party, but the state Democrats did spent $15,780 on direct-mail pieces for Houck, and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner has held a fundraising event for him.