Dave Marsden and Steve Hunt are both longtime Fairfax residents, but that's about where the similarities end. They're running in a special election to replace Ken Cuccinelli, the conservative senator who left his seat to become Attorney General.
Marsden, the Democrat, is a member of the House of Delegates who's run on a centrist platform.
"That's what I've always attempted to do," he says. "I try to steer clear of ideology and using the words 'always' and 'never.'"
His Republican opponent, Steve Hunt, rejects that. He's a full-throated conservative who portrays himself as Cuccinelli's heir apparent. Hunt says he's benefiting from a backlash against national Democrats.
"Those swing voters who swung over to Barack Obama in '08 are now saying 'we don't like what we're seeing here,'" says Hunt.
The Senate seat up for grabs represents western Fairfax County. It covers Burke, Centreville and parts of Chantilly.