A Bristow dentist is jumping into the crowded race for Del. Lee Carter’s 50th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Dr. Steve Pleickhardt, 62, is seeking the Republican nomination for the seat, which covers the city of Manassas and nearby parts of Prince William County.
Pleickhardt, a native of Long Island, N.Y., received an undergraduate degree in biology from Stony Brook University and degree in dentistry from Georgetown University. He first came to Virginia in 1981 before settling in Bristow in 2004. He opened a dental office in Gainesville in 2007 and later relocated it to Bristow.
Pleickhardt said his first run for office was partially inspired by Gov. Ralph Northam’s lockdown measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic. He said the regulations caused him to close down his office for two months and lay off his entire staff.
“It just infuriated me,” he said.
Pleickhardt said he was pushed over the edge after seeing Carter get into an altercation with police during a May Black Lives Matter protest in Manassas. Carter was sprayed with a chemical agent as police used force to disperse the crowd.
“No government official should be fighting their own police force,” Pleickhardt said.
Pleickhardt said Carter injured a police officer during the altercation, but Carter denied the allegation. Carter said he was hit with flashbangs, shields and pepper spray.
“[I]t doesn't bode well for that candidate when they're just blatantly lying so early in the race. It's interesting to see how this claim from the right keeps getting escalated every time they tell it. Next thing you know, they'll be claiming I put a whole SWAT team in the ICU with my bare hands,” he wrote in an email. “It makes for an interesting campfire story, but it's a complete fabrication, and it shows that the Republican party and its candidates feel no obligation to the truth.”
Pleickhardt said his campaign will focus on cutting taxes and tolls, getting students back into schools and resisting calls to pull funding from law enforcement.
“We need law and order,” he said. “If someone comes to steal your car, who are you going to call if you don’t have the police? You’re not going to call a social worker.”
He wants to end tolls on Interstate 66 and would support eliminating Virginia’s income tax. He said “there’s always excess somewhere” to account for the lost state revenue, but said he did not want to eliminate or cut funding for social programs.
Pleickhardt also expressed interest in “tighten[ing] up election policies” to ensure “valid elections” and “rout out any fraud that exists.”
Pleickhardt has been president of the Amberleigh Station homeowners association for 15 years and served on advisory councils at Bristow Run Elementary and Gainesville Middle schools. He has one child in high school and another in college and lives with his wife, Ekaterina.
“I’m not a politician. I’m an outsider,” he said. “I want to be the voice of reason in Richmond.”
Pleickhardt will face Mike Allers Jr. in a party caucus on May 1.
Carter is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor and, like many candidates running for governor or lieutenant governor, is simultaneously running for another two-year term in the House of Delegates. If he wins the governorship, a special election would be held for his House of Delegates seat.
Carter won his first two-year term in 2017, knocking off six-term Republican incumbent and House Majority Whip Jackson Miller. He survived primary and general election challengers in 2019.
Thursday was the last day for major party candidates to file for the election. No independent or third-party candidates have announced plans to run in the district, but they have until June 8, which is the date for the party primaries.