Prince William News
Wed., Feb. 20 - Woodbridge resident Jeremy McPike formally kicked off his campaign on Sunday afternoon with the backing of several Prince William County Democrats.
McPike kicks off campaign for 31st district
© Gainesville TimesIn any given race, a challenger running against an incumbent not tainted by scandal generally starts off as an underdog.
Whether or not there will be an incumbent running in the 31st House of Delegates district this fall, however, remains to be determined.
Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R) is currently running for lieutenant governor but may have the option of switching back for re-election if he is not successful in the May convention.
Unlike 2011, however, the Democrats have a candidate, meaning Lingamfelter or any Republican will not have a cake walk to the general election.
Woodbridge resident Jeremy McPike formally kicked off his campaign on Sunday afternoon with the backing of several Prince William County Democrats.
A 37-year-old administrator with the City of Alexandria government and volunteer firefighter in Dale City, McPike is focusing his campaign on transportation, education and health care among other issues.
McPike backed the transportation bill supported by all 20 Democrats in the state Senate along with six out of 20 Republicans that would raise the gas tax from 17.5 cents per gallon to 22.5 cents while indexing future growth rates in the tax to the rate of inflation.
The bill also calls for an increase in the sales tax for wholesale fuel.
He justified his position by saying user fees make more sense for funding transportation than using more money out of the commonwealth's General Fund.
"So the Senate seems to have come up with a plan that would... help fund some of our new construction priorities an making sure our roads are maintained," he said.
Even though increased fuel economy standards set to kick in over the next decade would mean fewer trips to the pump for motorists purchasing new vehicles in the next 10 to 15 years, that "doesn't necessarily mean the next 5 to 10 (years) isn't viable" for having a gas tax.
McPike named Interstates 95 and 66, Dale Boulevard, Route 28, U.S. 29 and the Monclair area in general as being prime spots for bottleneck traffic that he would like the state legislature to address.
Part of the problem he pointed out is that the price for VRE commuters can be $16 to $20 a day, which is a "signficant investment" for individuals, causing more people to opt for their vehicles instead.
"I don't know that we've got enough investment from our employers," said McPike, "to look at that cost of service and improving commuter service."
Another area he focused on regarded setting up tax incentives for telework.
While both U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf (R-10th) and Gerry Connolly (D-11th) have advocated for more telework solutions at the national level, McPike said there has been
"Well, the fact is that while the federal government has had a lot of talk about it, there hasn't been a lot of show," said McPike.
As for what his solution is, the Democrat did not put a dollar figure on how much it would cost to further study telework at the state level or whether there are adequate telework studies already conducted by the private sector that legislators could review.
"Sometimes, it takes a discussion, not necessarily money," he said.
McPike supports Virginia expanding its Medicaid coverage as part of an agreement with the federal government over its 2010 health care law.
Medicaid is a public health insurance program run as a partnership between the state and federal governments. It is designed to cover low-income Americans who may not otherwise be able to afford private health insurance.
The state House and Senate passed competing bills and McPike aligned his views with that of the Senate. The upper chamber pushed its bill through on a 36 to 4 vote earlier this month.
Speaking about his wife's bout with breast cancer, McPike explained that "without health insurance, we would have faced financial ruin."
Regarding education, the first-time candidate said he backs the expanded universal pre-kindergarten push implemented by former Gov. Tim Kaine (D), who is now a U.S. senator, and adding more school resource officers to schools so kids can develop a bond with police officers.
Two other areas of note regarding McPike's policy stances are that he opposes uranium mining when there is potential for runoff spilling into watersheds (which has a local impact in Fauquier County) and opposes further restrictions on the magazine capacity of firearms.
"I'm very caution when it comes to any limitations on rights," said McPike.
When asked for his views regarding the General Assembly's actions on abortion legislation during the 2012 session, McPike initially balked at the question, saying social issues were not a focus of his campaign nor would they be on his legislative agenda.
"They're not on my wheelhouse of issues," said McPike, later adding, "Those aren't my priorities."
However, when reminded that any delegate will have to vote or otherwise abstain when those issues do come up on the House floor, the Democrat said that social legislation tends to "center around an individual, God, priest or family."
That implies that he prefers individuals to make decisions themselves about whether to obtain abortion instead of the state deciding whether it's legal.
He took a similar approach when asked if he would back the repeal of the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
"I'm not sure government's got a place in that," he said, referring to the institution of marriage.
The 31st district includes four precincts in Fauquier County: New Baltimore, Kettle Run, Catlett and Casanova. In Fauquier, the district runs south from U.S. 29 in New Baltimore all the way to the Stafford border and includes the entirety of those four precincts.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) carried all of those precincts by a 3,547 to 1,878 vote margin in 2012 during the presidential race.
On the Prince William side, there are all or part of 15 precincts, all of which Pres. Barack Obama carried for the Democrats in 2012, most by overwhelming margins.
Demographically, the Fauquier portion of the district is much more dominated by older white voter than the Prince William precincts, which are more minority heavy.
Those older whites tend to vote Republican in presidential years while minorities as a whole lean more Democratic.
As a whole, 65.72 percent of the district is made up of voting-age whites, according to statistics provided by the commonwealth's redistricting website.
McPike's challenge, if he wins the Democratic nomination, is turning out his party's base voters in an off-year election.
A wildcard in the race is how the races at the top of the ticket will affect turnout down ballot.
If Lingamfelter were to secure the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, he would likely receive a substantial amount of crossover vote in his home district from Democrats and independents while handily winning Republicans.
The same would go for Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (R), who is competing with Lingamfelter for the nomination.
What sort of impact the presence of either of them at on the ticket would leave on the 31st district race is unknown.
McPike is counting on his lifelong ties to the area and a message that he says is not based on extremes to help him drive out voters come the fall.
"I grew up here. I've got my roots here and I've got my family here," said McPike. "This is a great opportunity."