After a tough and expensive primary battle, Oakton businessman Keith Fimian is working to win over supporters of his opponent, Pat Herrity, as he prepares to take on incumbent Democrat Gerald Connolly in the 11th District congressional race.
The primary against Herrity descended into unusually brutal territory, with Fimian lambasting the Fairfax County supervisor for his record on taxes, and Herrity circulating a flier labeling Fimian a "tax cheat" for a $16,000 lien placed on his company.
But Fimian campaign manager Tim Edson said he "absolutely" thought Herrity supporters would swing over.
"At the end of the day, Keith and Pat are very similar," he said. "Frankly, Gerry Connolly is a great unifier."
Connolly, though, said Fimian's rightward push this election cycle "makes it a lot easier for moderate Republicans to join my coalition, and they're more than welcome."
There are always a few hard feelings in intraparty contests, said Becky Stoeckel, chairwoman of the 11th District Republican Committee.
"The party's unified around our nominees, period," she said, noting that the committee held a unity dinner to support Fimian last month.
But Herrity, who was on a family vacation at the time, didn't attend.
"I think you saw real cleavage between the more dominant right wing of the party and the sort of moderate, pro-business wing of the Republican Party," said Connolly, who defeated Fimian by about 12 points in the 2008 congressional race.
Political analyst Bob Holsworth, founder and president of Virginia Tomorrow, said that the Republican businessman's ability to unify the party is one of the big questions in the race.
"If Fimian is going to win, he's going to have to unite Republicans and mobilize the independent vote that is very frustrated with what's going on in D.C.," he said.
Recently released fundraising numbers show that Fimian faces an uphill financial climb. Connolly raised $385,000 in the second quarter, leaving him with almost $1.3 million in cash on hand as of June 30. Meanwhile, Fimian raised $333,000 and, with the June 8 primary occurring during the reporting period, finished with less than $300,000 cash on hand.