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Dems Neck And Neck In VA

Two leading Democratic candidates fighting for a congressional seat in the Washington, D.C. suburbs are neck and neck, a new poll for one of those candidates shows, as both, national Democrats hope, would give their party a good chance to take back yet another Republican-held seat.

The poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group for ex-Rep. Leslie Byrne, surveyed 400 registered voters who were likely to cast ballots in the Democratic primary for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Byrne and Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chair Gerry Connolly were tested.

Primary Election Matchup
(All / Men / Wom)
Connolly....37 / 42 / 32
Byrne........34 / 30 / 37

The tight race is contrary to what many had assumed that Connolly held a wide lead. Byrne, who held the seat before Republican Tom Davis beat her in 1994, has since run for Lieutenant Governor and retains good name recognition in the district, but most establishment Democrats are backing Connolly, including Governor Tim Kaine, who endorsed him yesterday. Connolly released a March poll that showed himself up twenty points.

The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners for Connolly between 3/24-27, surveyed 500 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Connolly, Byrne and two less-well known candidates, Doug Denneny and Lori Alexander, were tested.

Primary Election Matchup
Connolly....45
Byrne........25
Denneny.....1
Alexander...1

Both candidates had raised reasonable amounts of money through the end of March. Connolly had pulled in just over $500,000 and retained $422,000 on hand, while Byrne had raised $346,000 and kept $237,000 in the bank. In advance of the state's June 10 primary, both candidates are likely to spend a hefty portion of their remaining balances.

That could be a problem in the general, as Connolly and Byrne both trail their likely Republican foe, businessman Keith Fimian, who pulled in $838,000 by the same March 31 deadline and kept $742,000 on hand. Of that amount, Fimian, who was handpicked by Davis to run as his replacement, had loaned his own campaign $325,000.