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Dean group targets Va. House of Delegates seats

A political action committee spearheaded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean will spend $750,000 to target five Republican-held districts in the Virginia House of Delegates for takeover by Democrats in the 2013 elections.

Dubbing their effort the “Purple to Blue Project,” the group, Democracy for America, said it is embarking on a multi-year effort to reverse the trend of GOP-controlled legislatures in swing states like Virginia.

The group plans to deploy data-driven, micro-targeting, mail and media strategies similar to those that helped President Barack Obama win Virginia and other in the 2012 presidential election.

Project director Nick Passanante said announced challengers to two Northern Virginia incumbents — Del. Tom Rust, R-Fairfax and Del. David I. Ramadan, R-Loudoun. Jennifer Boysko, a former field organizer for Dean in Virginia, will run against Rust; John Bell, a retired Air Force officer, will challenge Ramadan.

Passanante said challenges to three other Republicans considered vulnerable this fall — likely to include districts in Hampton Roads and perhaps a rural district — will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We’ve got a real opportunity to change the legislature in Virginia,” said Dean, a onetime presidential candidate in 2004 who subsequently served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“This is not about the left versus the right — this is about sane, normal Amercians taking on these very, very far right extreme people with these bizarre ideas that are not just un-American but un-Virginian,” Dean added.

“Virginia is not a right wing state any more. Virginia is a thoughtful middle-of-the-road state that can vote either way for thoughtful, middle-of-the-road candidates.”

Republicans currently hold a nearly 2-1 advantage over Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates, for which all 100 seats are up for election this November, as well as statewide offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.