Del. Tom Rust vs. Jennifer Boysko
Outlook: Slight-Lean Republican
The 86th district is the most Democratic seat in Virginia currently occupied by a Republican Delegate. The district is in both Loudoun and Fairfax counties, but is mostly on the Fairfax side in the Herndon area. The incumbent Tom Rust has been in office since 2001 and is the former Mayor of Herndon.
Rust has stayed in office with the help of Mark Warner discouraging Democratic challengers from running and winning crossover votes when they have. This year will be his toughest challenge to make this coalition work again. First- it is likely that Ken Cuccinelli will fare worse in this district than any GOP candidate for Governor since Rust came into office. Second- for the first time Democrats have nominated a candidate against Rust who is from the population base in Herndon and has strong local government ties as Boysko served as the Herndon area aide for Supervisor John Foust.
Those factors suggest this race could trend towards a tossup in the fall, but it isn't quite there yet. Besides Rust having about a $100,000 cash advantage now, the state GOP has a massive funding edge for House races over the Democrats- so Rust will be able to outspend Boysko by a wide margin regardless of her own fundraising. In order to counter this financial onslaught, Boysko will have to begin getting her message out in the media- and this race has yet to receive much attention there. The best chance for Rust to survive this challenge is his name identification advantage and that still persists.
As the GOP ticket continues to thud in a district like this, it will be interesting to see how much Tom Rust is willing to publicly distance himself from Ken Cuccinelli in order to save his own seat. Rust got a shout out from Terry McAuliffe in the first Governor's debate for working on the "Virginia Dream Act". Given that T-Mac would be challenged to name half of the members of the General Assembly (forget what issues they have worked on)- it is clear from that moment that Rust is already working McAuliffe behind the scenes to do less in support of Boysko's campaign. Is that enough to save him from the rest of his ticket? We'll find out in two months.