Del. May faces GOP primary challenge
Posted: March 5, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — The recently concluded state General Assembly battle over potholes and taxes has spilled into the 2013 election.
Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg — whose 33rd District includes portions of Frederick and Clarke counties — will face competition from his own party after he supported the $3.5 billion transportation plan that passed the General Assembly on Feb. 23.
Support from some GOP legislators for the plan has infuriated anti-tax conservatives, threatening to throw the party into turmoil ahead of the 2013 state elections on Nov. 5.
Dave LaRock, 56, a Loudoun County businessman, announced Feb. 25 that he will challenge May for the Republican nomination — the first time since 2005 that an incumbent Republican delegate in Virginia has faced a primary challenge.
The nomination will be decided in a June 11 primary.
“I decided to run before the transportation vote,” LaRock said. “But [May’s] vote made it clear that it was the right decision.”
May — who defeated primary challengers in 1994 and 2005 — is unfazed.
“I welcome his entry into the race,” May said. “I’m going to contest it vigorously.”
LaRock argues that May isn’t conservative enough for citizens of the 33rd District.
“He votes with Democrats often,” LaRock said.
Since May took office in 1994, 63 percent of all the bills he copatroned were introduced by Republicans, while 74 percent of the copatrons of his bills were members of the GOP, according to RichmondSunlight.com, a website that tracks the General Assembly.
“Our legislature tends to be bipartisan,” May said. “I don’t look at ideas as Republican or Democrat. I look at the issues and do what I think is best for the commonwealth.”
But LaRock doesn’t think the transportation package — which raises the state sales tax, vehicle titling tax and other fees — was the best decision for the state.
He doesn’t believe there should be any tax increases unless they’re offset by tax reductions in other areas.
“Tax increases are not conducive to business growth,” he said. “We need lower taxes and limited regulations.”
Moody’s Investor Services released a report Friday calling the transportation plan “credit positive” for the state.
May said that’s good news, but he said the biggest beneficiaries are the citizens who will deal with fewer potholes and less time stuck in traffic.
LaRock also strongly supports gun rights, is against abortion and believes there is a lot of waste in the state education budget.
He believes there are more administrators than teachers in the public school system.
“I would like to correct that balance. We need to help children learn and not add bureaucracy,” said LaRock, who has seven children who were home-schooled.
Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins sent out an email to GOP supporters Friday that acknowledged the frustration of party members who feel betrayed by the transportation package vote, while also attempting to keep the party unified and focused on the elections.
“I know that there are some very stark differences of opinion in our party about the transportation bill,” he wrote. But party unity needs to be the overriding goal, he argued — a message that hasn’t reached the 33rd District.
— Contact Conor Gallagherat firstname.lastname@example.org