Longest race: Citizen Toscano's run for Richmond

If the pundits are to be believed, David Toscano has been running for the 57th District delegate's seat for years. When he didn't seek reelection after 12 years on City Council in 2002, it was widely assumed he was waiting for Delegate Mitch Van Yahres to retire so he could lay claim to that solidly Democratic seat.

Van Yahres' announcement finally came in March, and Toscano was ready to roll. He even inherited Van Yahres' legislative aide, Connie Jorgensen, who is now his campaign coordinator.

Toscano says the worst moment in this year of running for state legislator was primary night, in which he faced challengers Rich Collins and Kim Tingley. "Primaries are always a little unpredictable," says Toscano. "You never feel like you have it in the bag."

One plus about running for office in the 57th District, which includes all of Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County, is that it's so compact.

"You can go to an event at 7, be home by 8:15 and go to work at 9," notes Toscano.

In a heavily Democratic district, odds would seem to favor Toscano, 55, a former mayor, over his relatively unknown Republican opponent, Tom McCrystal. Toscano hasn't done a poll, choosing to put the money he's raised– well over $100,000– into direct mail and advertising.

He refuses to use words like "shoo-in."

"I learned that," he says, although he hasn't lost a race since getting whupped in a 1982 run for Congress on the Citizen's Party ticket.

Toscano ascended to City Council as a Democrat in 1990. Shortly thereafter, he shaved off his beard and, while serving as mayor, embraced commercial developments as the salvation of downtown. Now, one local reporter says the only way to tell the difference between him and his moderate Republican opponent is that McCrystal has a mustache.

"David's a Democrat," protests Jorgensen. "He's a Democrat, and means it."

He does have one other thing in common with McCrystal, though: both took a break from campaigning to see the Rolling Stones October 6.

"I think it's probably the best concert I've ever seen," says Toscano the day after the show, "and I went to Woodstock, and I've seen Eric Clapton."

If Toscano wins, he's already pondering how to maintain a law practice while the General Assembly is in session. "It's possible to maintain a practice and run a campaign," he says. "The challenge is how to maintain a practice and be in Richmond five days a week for several months. I'll have to do a lot of law on the weekends if I'm elected." Not that he thinks anything is in the bag, of course.

Rolling Stones aside, after months of running for office, "I've forgotten how to have fun," he says. After the election, "I'm going to try to go somewhere. Anywhere. Maybe Disney World."