Republican Laurence Verga enters congressional contest

Businessman Verga will contend with two other GOP candidates to face Perriello for fifth district

Laurence Verga announced last Thursday that he is officially running for Virginia's fifth district congressional seat in 2010, making him the third Republican to enter the race.

Verga, founder of a real estate company called Verga Consulting and an Albemarle County resident, said he is running for office because he is disappointed in the direction that President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress are taking the country.

"We need to have citizens [in office] that are passionate about politics, not business as usual in D.C.," Verga said, noting that his primary issue is the economy and job creation, which he hopes to achieve by cutting taxes. He also is concerned with the amount of government spending and "irresponsible debt."

Isaac Wood, assistant communications director of the University's Center for Politics, said the large size and diverse voter population of the fifth district make it a complex and important area of disputation. The early contention for the fifth district also is preceded by last year's race, during which Tom Perriello defeated six-term revenant Virgil Goode by just 727 votes.

"Perriello hasn't always voted the party line," he said, "but Republicans will want to portray him as being a typical liberal."

Wood suggested that is one reason why the Republican Party is so anxiously awaiting next year's election. Democrats are similarly on edge, prompting Perriello's unprecedented 21-stop town hall tour of the commonwealth.

Perriello's spokesperson Jessica Barba said her candidate hopes to get re-elected by continuing practices such as supporting a $2,500 tuition tax credit for college students and making an effort to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.

"He's established himself as a hard-working, independent-minded representative," Barba said, adding that "the people of the fifth district will judge him on that."

But Virginia Republicans spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said Perriello's narrow win last year is not the only reason that his seat has become a target.

"Midterm elections tend to favor the party in the White House," he said, "but we feel that in this instance, the issues favor our side."

Murtaugh explained that the Republican Party feels that Perriello has pushed policy against the interests of fifth district citizens, adding that a Republican candidate for office would address the issues of emissions regulations and health care.

This year, Perriello voted in support of the cap-and-trade bill, which is scheduled to enter the Senate in late September. This bill would put a limit on the amount of pollution a company could produce but allows them to sell any excess allowance to other companies or to buy extra allowance from other companies if they plan to surpass the limit. Murtaugh said the bill has the potential to stifle jobs and drive up electrical bills for consumers, and also spoke against Obama's health care plan, calling it "a monstrosity" and "a government takeover."

Feda Kidd Morton and Bradley Rees also are running as Republicans in the upcoming election. The method of selecting the Republican contender will be determined early next year, said Richard Crouse, Republican Party of Virginia political director, and the candidate will likely be selected in late spring or early summer.

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