FREDERICKSBURG — Krystal Ball was prepared for the question.

It's become familiar:

What's the deal with her name, the one described last year as seeming "out of the adult entertainment industry"?

The answer: Her father has a doctorate in physics and did his dissertation on crystals.

So after her mother named older sisters Heidi and Holly, it was dad's turn.

Ball said she doesn't mind the questions, though, or the jokes.

And she'll certainly be hoping a lot of people remember that name now that she's running for Congress.

The 28-year-old political newcomer on Saturday was formally named the Democratic nominee in the 1st congressional district, which stretches from Hampton Roads to southern Prince William County.

She will face the winner of a June 8 GOP primary between incumbent Rep. Robert J. Wittman and Catherine Crabill, who ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat in the Virginia General Assembly representing the Northern Neck.

Ball said she decided to run for Congress after her now-2-year-old daughter, Ella, was born. The Fredericksburg resident started to worry about what the country might look like 10, 20, 30 years down the road.

(And she joked that her husband Jonathan's last name — Dariyanani, which Ella has — is much more complicated).

Ball chose to run for the House of Representatives because she figured it was the best fit for her background.

She's a CPA, so she said she understands fiscal issues. She and her husband own a business designing educational software, so she knows technology. And she's worked in the Middle East and understands the culture of that region, she noted in a campaign video.

She also said Wittman hasn't properly represented his constituents.

Take aquaculture, which is important in the 1st District, she said:

Wittman voted against the Clean Estuaries Act last month, a day after he put out a press release saying he was encouraged by surveys that report an increased blue crab population in the Chesapeake Bay.

Most political observers say that Ball faces an uphill climb, however, as the 1st District's boundaries were drawn to be friendly to Republicans.

But she said she thinks voters in the district are more independent-minded.

In terms of a platform, Ball said she wants to focus on job creation, on keeping the Bay clean and on supporting the military and military families. She's in favor of charter schools, which differentiates her from some in the Democratic Party. She supported the recently passed health-care reform legislation, too. But she said it didn't go far enough in trying to bring medical costs down.

On the other hand, Ball got good news recently about another cost-related matter.

In March, she had more online campaign donors than any other House candidate in the country: 3,587, who gave a total of $35,793.

Jonathan Hunley is a staff writer for Media General's News & Messenger.

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