UPDATED: Dr. Steve Pleickhardt, a Bristow dentist and first-time candidate, will be the Republican nominee in the 50th District House of Delegates race in November.
Pleickhardt, 62, beat fellow first-time candidate Michael Allers Jr., 28, with more than 61% of the votes cast in a "firehouse primary" held Saturday, May 1.
A total of 435 votes were cast in the contest, which was held at Grace Metz Middle School in Manassas. Pleickhardt received 266 votes compared to Allers’ 169.
Pleickhardt will go on to challenge the winner of a three-way primary for the Democratic nomination, which will be decided in the June 8 state-run primary.
Del. Lee Carter, D-50th, is serving his second term in the seat but is also vying for the Democratic nomination to run for Virginia governor.
Carter is competing in both the Democratic primary for governor and for his House seat, however, and faces challenges for the latter from fellow Democrats Michelle Maldonado and Helen Zurita.
During an interview at the polls Saturday, Pleickhardt said he would attribute a win to his “good relationships” with the Bristow community. Pleickhardt has lived in the Bristow and Gainesville area since 2004 and has owned his own dental practice there since 2007.
Pleickhardt and his wife have two sons; one is a student at George Mason University and the other a senior at Patriot High School who will attend George Mason in the fall, he said.
“I’m the voice of Bristow, I think, the voice of the people in this area,” Pleickhardt said. “I’ve been here 17 years, so I have business relationships. I’ve got relationships with [people through having] kids in school.”
Pleickhardt, who wore a solid red tie and a navy-blue blazer while greeting voters outside the middle school, said he was “inspired” to run for office, in part, by President Donald Trump.
“He inspired me in the sense that you step up to change things. You don’t just complain about it. You try to change things,” he said. “And I want to try to change it at the state level. I want to try to help all people.”
Pleickhardt said his run was also prompted by Carter’s actions during a May 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Manassas, during which Carter angrily confronted local and state police, and by Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 restrictions, which he said closed his dental practice for two months during the spring of 2020.
“I lost $150,000. That just irritated the hell out of me,” he said of the statewide closures that put his practice on hold.
Pleickhardt, who is originally from Long Island, New York, said if he’s elected in November, he’ll advocate for Virginians’ First, Second and 10th Amendment rights and to eliminate the state income tax.
“I don’t like taxation at all,” he added.
The 50th District race was the only contest decided by the firehouse primary, which was conducted entirely outdoors. It was open to all registered voters in the 50th District, which includes parts of Prince William County and the City of Manassas. Voters did not have to pre-register to vote like they had to for the Republican's convention, which will take place on Saturday, May 8.
The contest was the first local Republican primary to be decided this year. A mailer from Allers that labeled Pleickhardt a “Russian dentist” and criticized a past bankruptcy filing was met with sharp words delivered on Facebook by Prince William County Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, R-Brentsville, and Ian Lovejoy, a former Manassas City councilman. Lovejoy unsuccessfully challenged Carter as the GOP nominee in 2019, garnering 46.5% of the vote to Carter’s 53.3%.
Pleickhardt said the mailer falsely suggests that he and his wife are “Russian agents,” something Allers denies.
Allers issued a statement via Facebook on Thursday, April 29, saying the mailer was not meant to criticize Pleickhardt’s wife, who is an immigrant from Russia, or any “legal” immigrants. On Saturday, Allers conceded that the mailer could have been better worded.
“I didn’t mean to attack his family,” he said. “But those are legitimate issues to talk about. And I’m just thinking this: Iron sharpens iron, and the Democrats are going to attack all that information. It’s all public information. But I was not trying to attack his family.”
Pleickhardt first came to the Washington, D.C. area to attend dental school at Georgetown University, graduating in 1985. In 1996, when he was 38, he moved to Moscow to work for an American-owned dental practice. He later lived in St. Petersburg, where he met his wife, and the two moved to Prague, in the Czech Republic, where their two sons were born, Pleickhardt said.
Pleickhardt opened a dental practice in Prague, which he owned until 2007. The family moved back to the U.S. in 2004, and Pleickhardt opened a dental practice in Gainesville in 2007, he said.
Pleickhardt said the criticism of his ties to Russia and Prague is unfair and added that he believes his international experience will be a benefit if he is elected the 50th District state delegate.
The Republican Party of Virginia will hold an “unassembled convention” next Saturday, May 8, to pick the party’s nominees for the three statewide races on the ballot this November, those for Virginia governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Voting will take place at 39 polling places across the state, including at the Prince William fairgrounds, where GOP voters who live in Prince William County, Stafford County, Manassas and Manassas Park will cast their ballots.
To participate, voters had to register to be a “delegate” to the convention by April 20. About 3,500 local residents are registered to vote in the convention, according to Willie Deutsch, vice chairman of the Prince William County Republican Committee.
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