Slutzky Considering Challenging Del. Bell

BoS member David Slutzky is considering running against Del. Rob Bell, Brian McNeill writes in Sunday’s Daily Progress. Bell, a Republican, is up for reelection next November; he had no challenger last year. Slutzsky, a Democrat who represents the Rio district, says that he hasn’t made his mind up, but that what Bell does in January’s legislative session will affect his decision.

Slutzky is upset that the state isn’t funding transportation (hence no roads getting built anytime soon), and would like to have a Charlottesville/Albemarle referendum on raising taxes to fund a regional transportation authority. Bell is threatening to oppose that referendum—that is, to lobby against allowing Charlottesville to hold one at all—which led Slutzky to declare the following in an October 31 regional transit authority working group meeting: “We will pillory him in the press. Then we run against him and we kick his ass out. Not to be subtle.”

Bell hasn’t faced a significant challenge since his 2002 election, allowing him to build up one of the state’s largest campaign war chests. his campaign has $94k on hand, he also runs the Piedmont Leadership PAC, which exists solely for him to donate money to and to give money to him, and he’s got $312k squirreled away there. The common assumption is that he’s planning a run for a higher office, since otherwise there’s just no need to sit on that money, though earlier this year he announced that he wouldn’t be running for attorney general in the 2009 election.

Coincidentally, I crunched the numbers on the the 58th district earlier today and found that Democrat Tom Perriello beat Republican Virgil Goode in the 58th with 55% of the vote, a significant move leftward from past election results in this district. That’s the sort of demographic shift that’s got Del. Bell vulnerable at the polls. But with his fundraising advantage, anybody running against him will have to fundraise as few in Virginia ever have.

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