By Courtney Ridenhour
Shaking hands and making small talk in the gymnasium at Rockbridge Middle School, T.J. Aldous looks at ease.
But the Republican is the underdog in the state Senate race for the 25th District. Aldous, a Charlottesville tax attorney, has less funding, less political experience, and is less recognized than his opponent, incumbent Creigh Deeds, a Bath County Democrat.
But that has not discouraged Aldous. After work and on lunch breaks, Aldous makes calls, goes door-to-door, and attends events.
“He’s been going it seems like from morning to night since June,” said campaign manager Danielle Thumann.
“From the very first time I met him, I knew that he had a lot of heart.”
The Aldous campaign raised $25,477 as of Sept. 30, while Deeds took in $370,092, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
“The challenges are, any time that we approach something, we have ‘X’ amount of dollars and our opponent has ‘Y’ amount of dollars,” Thumann said. “It’s definitely been a challenge when it comes to budgeting.”
But Thumann said funding is a secondary issue. What matters most, she said, is what the candidate stands for and hitting the pavement.
“He’s definitely been seen in public,” Thumann said. “He’s met a lot of people.”
The attorney did not enter the race blindly, and he received a lot of advice along the way, she said. But there has been a learning curve.
“By this point in the campaign, he’s making his own decisions,” Thumann said. “He has really learned so much in the last four months.”
Aldous is the first opponent Deeds has faced since he was elected in 2001.