Two Republicans with extensive public service experience face off again for the party’s nomination for the 28th District House seat.
Over the last several weeks, Del. Bob Thomas and his challenger Paul Milde, have engaged in attacks against each other in campaign literature distributed to voters in the district, which covers parts of Fredericksburg and Stafford County.
Among the claims, Milde alleges Thomas abandoned his conservative values by supporting Medicaid expansion and voting for a state budget that includes funding for Planned Parenthood, while Thomas has resurfaced Milde’s 1986 drug conviction and past tax delinquencies.
“Those issues had been extensively covered by the newspapers and have been brought up in every election I’ve ever had, but it was always when I was running against a Democrat,” said Milde. “Bob’s talking about my struggle with addiction 33 years ago. I didn’t expect it from a Republican.”
“I’ve never done that in previous campaigns,” Thomas said, “But twisting that budget vote into saying that I’m funding Planned Parenthood and abortion facilities is really quite disingenuous. The voters in the primary deserve to know the full history and current situation of my opponent.”
The GOP primary is Tuesday. The winner will face Democrat Joshua Cole, who has no primary opponent.
Thomas, 42, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1995 to 2003. He was elected to represent the George Washington District on Stafford’s Board of Supervisors in November 2011 and served in that role until he was elected to the General Assembly.
Thomas defeated Milde in a three-candidate GOP primary in 2017, then edged Democrat Cole in the November general election to succeed retiring House Speaker Bill Howell.
Thomas is a partner with Capriccio Software, a government contractor that provides software and business intelligence services to government and commercial customers.
Thomas’ campaign literature says his focus areas are transportation, increased funding for schools, and a reduction in the tax burden on small businesses and families.
Thomas has sponsored several successful bills during his short time in Richmond as a delegate.
“I think I have a really great set of results to show for my work in the first two years,” Thomas said, “I actually passed five bills in 2018—which tied amongst all the freshmen—and this year, I actually had the most bills  make it out of the house out of all 100 delegates. A lot of my bills have been focused around transportation.”
Thomas says transportation is his biggest issue.
“That’s the one thing that keeps me up at night,” he said. “I said going into this two years ago that I was really into the policy part of it, and understanding every bill that I vote on and what its implications are, I think I’ve proven that I can get things done for the region.”
Thomas also believes the state must reduce the tax burden on small businesses and families. He successfully sponsored legislation to reduce the merchant’s capital tax and also helped pass the Republican-led $1 billion tax relief package—the second largest tax cut in Virginia history.
“I have a record to run on with actual results in Richmond,” he said. “A lot of people promise things and don’t deliver in their first two years.”
Milde, 51, represented the Aquia District as a county supervisor from 2006 to 2017 and chaired the Board of Supervisors in 2017.
Since 1986, Milde has owned and operated CIP Finishes, a commercial construction company specializing in finish hardware in multifamily projects.
Milde took a yearlong break from politics after 12 years of service on Stafford’s Board of Supervisors and his initial run for the 28th District seat. During that time, he said he was trying to decide whether to get back into the arena.
“I reconsidered another run, my desire to be in the House of Delegates, and I thought I had a good platform to run off of, and that’s what I did,” Milde said.
According to Milde’s campaign literature, he is focused on cutting taxes and prioritizing spending on public safety and schools. He also supports voter-approved bonds to improve transportation and wants to provide raises for educators, renovate schools and preserve natural and historic assets in the region.
Milde, who served as Chairman of the Virginia Railway Express, was also a three-time chairman of the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“Every project you see being built right now has my fingerprints all over it,” Milde said. “My battles are legendary. ... Things that I won, like Crow’s Nest and Government Island, and things I didn’t win, like Aquia Town Center.”
Milde also touts his involvement in local conservation efforts, including the preservation of Crow’s Nest. He said he had to make some tough decisions to make it all work.
“I supported the county borrowing $9.5 million when we made the deal to save the 3,000 acres of Crow’s Nest, and that was only a portion of what had to be spent,” Milde said. “The state and the feds put up the rest, but needed us to have some skin in the game and we did. So there are times when I believe that you have to pick one thing over the other.”
Milde believes the people of the 28th District need a successful business leader to represent them in Richmond.
“I’m really good at running a business. To the extent that it’s possible, that is exactly what we need from our leaders in Richmond,” Milde said. “I’ve been through three recessions. I’m 51. I know what it’s like to struggle, I know what it’s like to worry about money, and I think my business acumen helps me in a lot of areas.”