Roanoke Del. Ware says he will run for re-election to his General Assembly seat, probably not for statewide office
During and immediately after this year’s race for Roanoke mayor and city council, I was asked many questions about state Del. Onzlee Ware.
Why didn’t he campaign on behalf of Democratic mayoral candidate David Bowers? Was he really going to run for statewide office in 2013? Or would he step down after a 10-year run in the House of Delegates?
I finally caught up with Ware today for a sprawling chat that covered all of those questions.
Let’s start with his plans for 2013. Last time we checked in, Ware told reporter Michael Sluss that he was using his campaign funds to travel around the state and test the waters for a possible run for attorney general or lieutenant governor.
Today, though, Ware said he’s not likely to take that step.
“Let me tell you what,” Ware said. “Statewide, unless you have someone to drop a boatload of money on you or you’re wealthy yourself, you’re not going to get out of the chute. Unless somebody came up with a lot of money that got behind me running a statewide campaign, it’s really just an exercise to get your name out there. I’m too old to just get my name out there.”
Ware is 58 and was unopposed in the 2011 elections. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, he’s got nearly $13,000 in his campaign fund. That’s not nearly enough to launch a statewide campaign.
But it’s enough to serve as the foundation for another re-election campaign for the House of Delegates in 2013. Ware had told Sluss that he’d serve five terms and re-evaluate whether he wanted to continue. (I had mentioned that in the live chat for the city elections, when I included a typo and wrote that he’d committed to a term limit. As I noted in the comments, I meant to write that Ware had not pledged to step down after five terms.)
Ware said, “I’ve said from day one that if the people chose me, five terms would be a good point for me to figure out if I enjoyed it, whether I’m any good at it and whether the people want me.”
He said there are lots of considerations at play, including his law practice, politics and even his health. In 2008 Ware was hospitalized for six days during the General Assembly session for pneumonia and dehydration.
But with all that, Ware said he’s going to run for re-election next year. He’s working to learn new parts of his district that were added during redistricting, including South Roanoke.
That begs the question: Will he have a challenger? That’s not a question Ware can answer just yet.
But it does play into the questions I received about why Ware didn’t show up at Bowers’ events. Ware said that during the primary he stayed on the sidelines because both Bowers and challenger Sam Rasoul were Democrats.
But how about the general election, when Bowers was running as a Democrat against a Republican challenger? Ware said that Bowers never came to him and asked him for help. Another factor: Bowers’ 2007 contribution to Mac McCadden, back when McCadden was running against Ware for his House seat. That was during a time when Roanoke Democrats had split into factions over the question of Victory Stadium.
Will Bowers run against Ware? Not likely, if you believe Bowers’ statements that he has no interest in any other office than mayor at this point. However, there are a few other city Democrats who may decide to take a run at Ware, given that he’s relatively untested in his new district and was a no-show in the city race.
Ware didn’t seem concerned either way, and he said that as a delegate you can’t win no matter what you do in local elections. If you try to get involved, they tell you to stay out, he said, but if you stay out they wonder why you didn’t show up.
– Mason Adams