Veteran state Del. Joe May moved into the Senate of Virginia’s 33rd District the first weekend of December.
Jennifer Wexton, a Leesburg attorney and former assistant commonwealth's attorney in Loudoun, most recently took up residency in the 33rd in October.
Now, both May and Wexton are courting the support of the Loudoun and Fairfax County district's more than 100,000 voters in an upcoming election to replace state senator and attorney general-elect Mark Herring (should Herring hold his advantage after a recount in his attorney general contest against state Sen. Mark Obenshain).
But while May and Wexton may be relative newcomers within the district's boundary, they're far from foreign to Loudoun County and Northern Virginia as a whole, and both campaigns are touting their deep ties and familiarity with the voters' concerns.
May, who's running as an independent after serving as a Republican in the House of Delegates for two decades, has lived in Leesburg – albeit outside the Senate's 33rd District – for more than 30 years. Though the House and Senate 33rd districts carry different boundaries, a May campaign spokesman pointed out May has represented “much of the 33rd senate district as his seat in the house shifted west due to population growth in eastern Loudoun.”
Moreover, the headquarters for May's electronics design company, EIT, has been in Sterling in the 33rd District for decades.
“Joe and his wife Bobby founded the Sterling-based technology company, EIT, from their kitchen table 37 years ago,” a May campaign spokesman, Jon Conradi, told the Times-Mirror. “EIT, located in the heart of the 33rd Senate district, has grown to employ over 200 Virginians in the technology industry.”
May lost a Republican primary election for his House seat to conservative Dave LaRock in June.
In late November, after the local nominating committee opted for a mass meeting rather than a primary to choose its nominee, May shifted from a Republican candidacy to an independent bid.
On the other side, the Democrat Wexton noted that she lived in the 33rd Senate District from 2004 until the 2011 redistricting. “I never left the district, the district left me,” she said in an email to the Times-Mirror, adding that her roots in the district are “strong and deep.”
Wexton said she leased a house on King Street in downtown Leesburg in anticipation of running for Herring's seat should he win his statewide race.
Wexton's decision also has a familial factor.
“This past spring, when I was in the early stages of considering a run for state senate, I spoke with the assistant principal of my sons’ elementary school,” Wexton said. “She advised me that immediately upon any move, my boys would have to switch schools. With that information, my husband and I decided it would not be in our children’s best interests – or fair to them – to make them switch schools in the middle of the year.”
Wexton has already secured a spot on the ballot for the special election, a date for which has yet to be set.
Once the date is established, either by current Gov. Bob McDonnell or incoming Gov. Terry McAuliffe, May will have to provide 250 signatures from voters in the district to appear on the ballot, according to Conradi.
Republicans will select their candidate, either John Whitbeck or Ron Meyer, on Dec. 16.