For the first time in 20 years, residents of the 33rd District of the House of Delegates have a new state representative. Self-professed fiscal conservative Dave LaRock, of Hamilton, outpaced Democrat Mary Costello Daniel by 2,764 votes.
LaRock took 13,256 votes, Daniel totaled 10,492 and Libertarian Patrick Hagerty got 837 votes in the district that includes portions of Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties.
Surrounded by supporters at a victory party at Andy’s Pizza in Leesburg late Tuesday, LaRock said that he felt it was a duty to run for office.
“There’s a saying, ‘duty is ours and the results are the Lord’s.’ We did everything we could and I woke up knowing at the end of the day today I’d done everything I could,” he said. “So win, lose or draw we gave it our best. It looks like the outcome’s in our favor and I’m real happy about that.”
In June, LaRock proved that no candidate is ever a shoo-in when he defeated 10-term incumbent Joe T. May in the Republican primary. May, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, was praised by many throughout the commonwealth for his work on the landmark transportation bill, which passed the General Assembly in February. But LaRock criticized the legislation, calling it a “$6 billion tax hike to fund pet projects.”
LaRock, who owns a construction company, became known throughout the county during the past two years as a vocal opponent of the Metro extension to Loudoun County, saying it is too costly and does not come with a guarantee that it will draw enough riders to pay its price tag. His truck was often seen pulling the massive pink “Tax Pig,” painted with the words “Loudoun Opt Out Now,” referring to the rail project.
In his campaign leading up to the general election LaRock said, while he would not have supported the transportation bill, if elected he would push for the 33rd District get its fair share of the funding. In September, he said he would require that all highway and mass transit projects be evaluated and prioritized based on their projected reduction in traffic congestion, already a requirement of the adopted legislation.
“This is what you do in business,” LaRock said. “You study your options, you perform a standardized cost-benefit analysis for each option, and you pick the one that will get the job done based on data. It’s high time we applied this approach to transportation spending in the Commonwealth to get traffic moving here in Northern Virginia.”
LaRock was more visible than his opponents throughout the campaign, often seen knocking on doors from Leesburg to Winchester. As his 12-year-old son John LaRock watched the results trickle in late Tuesday he announced, “Now we have to go back and knock on all the doors again to thank all those people.”
Daniel, 45, grew up in Frederick County. She is an attorney and a member of the Berryville Town Council. Even in the right-leaning 33rd District, Daniel posed some stiff competition.
“I gave him a scare that no one ever thought a Democrat could do in this district,” Daniel said Tuesday night. It is doubtful Daniel would have entered the race had the Republican primary gone to May, whom she considered a worthy legislator for the 33rd District. But, at the time she announced her intention to run she made it clear she thought LaRock should not just be given a walkover.
While the final result was disappointing—and did not reflect the “very positive responses everywhere I went”—Daniel said she was heartened by her reception. The Berryville councilwoman said she thought she was appreciated “as someone who was not beholden to a particular party, had experience with the issues and was willing to listen.”
She said she also was buoyed by the number of Republicans who signed on to work for her campaign—including Purcellville Mayor Bob Lazaro, considered a moderate Republican, who threw his support behind Daniel in September. Speaking of the Republicans who worked for her campaign, Daniel said, “I have a lot of faith those folks will take their party back to the reasonable group they were in the Ronald Reagan era.”
During the later stages of the campaign, LaRock was criticized for not participating in three candidates’ debates and forums, including the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s candidates’ forum last month. He was again under fire two weeks ago for taking credit for the Dulles Metro tax district, a funding plan he voiced opposition for just 16 months earlier.
Alan Pugh, a Purcellville resident, said his vote for LaRock was more of a vote against the Democratic Party. “I don’t know the man too much, to be honest, but I don’t think I could ever vote for a Democrat again. The Democratic Party isn’t like it used to be. They’ve become nasty in how they run campaigns.”
That was a sentiment also echoed strongly by Daniel—but against Republicans. “There was a false stereotype put out that was difficult to overcome,” she said.
Asked to describe the falsehoods, Daniel said what her opponent and “other organizations” were trying to depict was simply untrue. Claiming “that Democrats believe in gun control as a means of taking guns from law abiding citizens; it’s absolutely false that Democrats would promote abortion; and it’s an absolutely false and untrue representation of my record that I would simply raise taxes to provide boondoggles for other groups.”
While the experience has not exactly given her a taste for another run at state office, Daniel said she had met some wonderful people and “I learned what my family is capable of—which was extreme—and the people who cared about me and in the rational commonsense government I proposed. That has given me faith,” she said.
See how the other House of Delegates candidates fared here.
Margaret Morton contributed to this report.