The race for the District 34 seat in Virginia's House of Delegates — likely to be one of the area's more closely watched races in the 2013 elections — is heating up.
Democrat Kathleen Murphy, who is running against Del. Barbara Comstock, the Republican incumbent who has held the seat since 2009, earned an endorsement from the Virginia Education Association last week.
Murphy was one of several VEA endorsements in this year's race.Democrats Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) and Mark Herring (D-Loudoun), were endorsed for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, respectively.
The VEA recommended both Democratic and Republican House candidates whom the organization believes grasp the importance of public education.
“Those who earned our recommendation realize that for Virginia to prosper, our public schools require our steadfast support,” said VEA President Meg Gruber in a statement. “Given the decline in the state’s funding of public education, it’s even more vital now that members of the General Assembly fight on behalf of Virginia students.”
In a release from her campaign, Murphy stressed the importance of public schools and the teachers who make them work.
“Every child in Virginia deserves an education that will allow him or her to compete I the 21st century economy,” Murphy said. “I look forward to working with the Virginia Education Association to ensure our teachers have the necessary resources to educate our children.”
Comstock has her own track record of education bills.
In 2013, she helped author HB 1309, a bill that would have repealed the King's Dominion Law, allowing local school boards to set their own school calendars and authorizing them to start classes before Labor Day.
The bill was incorporated into House Bill 1467 which passed in the House with wide bipartisan support of 72-28 during the 2013 Session.
The bill, which also passed the House with wide support in 2012, was killed by the Senate Committee on Education and Health
But Comstock is handily beating Murphy in the money race, with almost twice as much cash in her campaign chest.
On July 15, Comstock reported a campaign balance of $297,337 as of June 30, compared to Murphy’s $149,327, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).
During that reporting period, Comstock’s campaign raised $323,946 and spent $144,984. She started the period with $118,376 in cash.
As a first-time challenger, Murphy lacked that cash balance but managed to raise $210,024, with expenses of $60,696.
“She works hard for her constituents, and her leadership assures rail to Dulles is being built with cost-savings to the taxpayers,” said Scott McGeary, chair of the committee. “She is a strong advocate who works to protect and promote the interests of the entire Fairfax County community, the Fairfax Chamber, and its members and we look forward to continuing that relationship in the future.”
This story has been updated to reflect HB 1467 passed the House in a 72-28 vote.