Second Republican Plans for the 51st District House Seat | Headlines

A US Army veteran in Manassas wants to take on the Virginia House of Delegates.

Jeff DoveThe 39-year-old is seeking the Republican nomination for the vacant seat in the 51st District, which covers central and southwestern Prince William Counties.

The seat is currently held by Del. Hala Ayala held Seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor and said she would not run for re-election in the House for a two-year term. Ayala supported the Democrat Briana Sewell, Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive Officer of Prince William County, Ann Wheelerto replace them.

Dove joins Tim Cox as an announced Republican candidate for the seat. The candidate will be determined in a primary on June 8th.

Dove, who works in information technology for a defense company, was born in Silver Spring, Md. And moved to Woodbridge in 2010. In 2020 he moved to the Manassas area, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Dove served in the army for three years and received a combat badge while serving in the Iraq war. After serving, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Database Administration from Strayer University.

Dove said his campaign will focus on responding to the coronavirus pandemic, helping small businesses, educational reforms and investments in transportation infrastructure.

Dove criticized Governor Ralph Northam’s administration for responding to the pandemic as the state lagged behind on testing early and controversy and inequalities marred the vaccine adoption. He said Northam’s regulations to curb the spread of the virus had not been equally enforced and had hit small businesses harder.

“Everything was done badly and that comes from above,” he said.

Dove advocated relaxing the regulations that allow charter schools to open in Virginia. He also supports a school electoral system that allows parents to direct their taxpayers’ money towards a school they choose for their child, rather than just that assigned by their district.

Dove supports student return to school and criticizes teachers’ associations for slowing the process down.

“It’s almost like school authorities across the state are overwhelmed with what they can do,” he said.

Dove said investing in infrastructure is a non-partisan issue. He said the state should focus on rehabilitation work for deteriorating roads, overpasses and bridges.

Dove’s first attempt at elected office was as the Republican challenger to longtime U.S. Representative Gerald Connolly (D-11) in 2018 for the district that covers parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties. Connolly easily won with 71% of the vote.

In 2020, Dove was seeking the Republican nomination for the 10th Congressional District, which stretches from Fairfax County to Clarke County. The party chose its candidate at a meeting and Dove was last among four candidates. The US representative Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg, held on to the seat in November.

Dove said he worked with the Republican National Committee to empower other black candidates like him and to diversify the party’s representation. “I think it’s important that we try to promote that kind of diversity across the field.”

The Republicans held the 51st District seat from 2008 to 2018, but Ayala sat the former Del. Richard Anderson in the 2017 elections and defeated him again in 2019. She won the latter race with about 55% of the vote.

Cox, a US Navy veteran at Woodbridge, is also seeking Republican nominations to run for the seat. He’s filed papers for access to ballot papers while Dove is still at it. Sewell is the only candidate who declares himself on the Democratic side.

The deadline for submitting a party election is March 25th. Independent and third-party candidates have until June 8 to provide the state with ballot signatures and papers for the November election.