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Hartwood Democrat challenges Cole

Del. Mark Cole has drawn a Democratic challenger for November’s House of Delegates race.

Kathleen O’Halloran, of Hartwood, announced her candidacy for the 88th House of Delegates seat in a news release on Wednesday.

O’Halloran, a retired environmental planner who worked for private companies as well as government agencies, mentioned Cole’s anti-abortion legislation as one factor motivating her campaign.

“The Republicans, with Mark Cole as a fitting example, have become more and more extreme in their positions. I will be a voice of common sense and moderation,” she said in the release.

“As a woman, I will speak out against the assault on women’s reproductive rights. The incumbent has been a leader in stripping women of their right to control their own bodies and their own destiny.”

O’Halloran also said Cole hasn’t done enough to improve transportation in the region (he voted against Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation funding bill in the 2013 session), and she said his hiring last year as Spotsylvania County deputy county administrator was “political cronyism.”

Cole has held the seat since 2002. He chairs the House Privileges and Elections Committee, which deals with voting-related legislation, and is a staunchly conservative Republican. Sometimes he has been one of the few votes against budget bills, in protest against more spending or taxation.

His website outlines his positions on those issues, as well as efforts to find more local transportation funds, eliminate the BPOL tax, require developers to pay impact fees, allow local police to enforce immigration laws and defend “traditional family values.”

The 88th District mostly covers portions of Spotsylvania and Stafford, as well as part of the city of Fredericksburg and a sliver of Fauquier County. It leans Republican, having voted 56 percent for Republican Mitt Romney in last fall’s presidential election.

Cole said this week that he is running for re-election and has filed all the necessary paperwork.

To the south, a Democrat also announced this week in the 55th House District.

That district is primarily based in Hanover, but also covers parts of Spotsylvania and Caroline counties.

It is currently held by Del. John Cox, a Republican who has decided to retire at the end of this term.

His legislative aide, Buddy Fowler, is running for the seat, as is Libertarian Chris Sullivan. Fowler is the Republican in the race, and also worked as an aide for former Del. Frank Hargrove, who held the seat for years.

Toni Radler of Hanover said she’s running as a Democrat. She is a former reporter and was also in marketing and media relations for various groups. She has been active in the Hanover Democratic party.

In a press release, Radler suggested other candidates would be “hamstrung by Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme ideology.”

“The real issues—job creation, economic development and education—have taken a back seat to social issues and political ideology,” she said in her release.

Sullivan’s website says he’s running to “stand up to federal government’s encroachment,” and favors lower taxes and less government regulation.

All 100 House of Delegates seats are up for election this November. Candidates must file to run by June 11.

In other Fredericksburg-area races, two Republican incumbents have primary challenges on June 11. House Speaker Bill Howell of Stafford faces Craig Ennis, who has run for other offices in the past. Del. Bobby Orrock of Caroline faces tea party activist Dustin Curtis.

Stafford Republican Del. Mark Dudenhefer has a Democratic challenger, Michael Futrell.

Northern Neck Republican Del. Margaret Ransone is officially announcing her candidacy for re-election to a second term this Friday in Montross.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028