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GOP Poll Portrays Hurt as Unquestioned Frontrunner Against Perriello

Virginia state Sen. Robert Hurt, the preferred GOP nominee to take on freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) this fall, released a new poll Tuesday that showed he has a wide lead in the crowded June 8 primary.

The poll, which was conducted by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies for Hurt’s campaign, showed Hurt taking 35 percent in a seven-way race. His next-closest competitor, Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd, took 10 percent.

Businessmen Jim McKelvey and Laurence Verga, who are both self-financing their campaigns, registered at 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in the poll.

When compared with a survey taken for Hurt’s campaign in February, the new data reflect a 23-point increase in the state Senator’s name ID, which is now at 70 percent, and a 16-point jump in his favorable rating, now at 38 percent.

“If this is, as many in the media have written, a competitive primary, then the competition has yet to start for any candidate but Robert Hurt,” pollster Glen Bolger wrote in a polling memo. “With the June primary less than a month away, this race is currently Robert Hurt, and then everybody else.”

Hurt has not yet been added to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program, although party strategists view him as the most competitive general election nominee running in the primary.

Perriello is one of Roll Call’s Top 10 Most Vulnerable House Members seeking re-election this fall. He ousted an incumbent in 2008 by a slim margin in a district that is culturally conservative and generally votes Republican. National Republicans plan to target him heavily and highlight his votes in favor of the health care overhaul and a cap-and-trade energy bill.

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