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UR Professor to Challenge Delegate O'Bannon 

Tom Shields, former adviser to Mayor-Elect Dwight Jones, launches bid for House of Delegates.

Tom Shields, director of the Center for Leadership in Education at the University of Richmond, will challenge Republican Delegate John O'Bannon for his seat in the House of Delegates this fall.

Shields, a Democrat, has filed a statement of organization with the State Board of Elections allowing him to fundraise and launched a Web site, shieldsfordelegate.com. He most recently served as an informal adviser to the campaign of Mayor-Elect Dwight Jones.

Shields says his candidacy is “not to run against [O'Bannon], but the idea that there's a need to put families first.” Though he vows to run on a platform of education, housing and health care, the shifting political behavior of 73rd House district has no doubt been an enticement to run.

The compact 73rd runs from the city's West End to Parham Road in Henrico County. The city has long voted reliably Democratic, but Henrico has been gradually shifting away from its stance as a Republican stronghold. Though the district falls in fifth-term Republican Congressman Eric Cantor's district, Barack Obama received 49 percent of vote here and Gov. Tim Kaine garnered a similar margin in 2005.

“We anticipate it'll be a very competitive district,” says Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

Still, O'Bannon, a neurologist whose wife, Pat, serves on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors, isn't concerned with shifting political winds.

“I plan to run on my record and what I've accomplished,” he says.

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