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Republican in Prince William, Stafford House race falsely touts Masters Degree, apologizes

STAFFORD — Laquan Austion replied to a Potomac Local candidate survey and listed a degree he doesn’t have.

The Republican seeking to replace Delegate Mark Dudenhefer in Virginia House District 2 in Prince William and Stafford counties told readers he obtained a Masters Degree from The George Washington University.

On Tuesday, his campaign manager Kurt Lofquist told Potomac Local via email that Austion doesn’t have the degree but is pursuing one. Austion obtained a Bachelors from Drew University in New Jersey.

The admission follows a Richmond Times-Dispatch story that first broke the news, and reported Austion is not currently enrolled in classes at GWU.

Lofquist provided this statement from Austion via email.

“I never pretended to be something I’m not. If my education background was misconstrued – I apologize. Anyone who knows me knows I pride myself on my honesty and hardwork – sometimes a bit too honest. But lets also be clear this tacky attack is a distraction from the real issues.

When I first began my campaign, I knew that I would have to deal with a little mudslinging, but I have quite frankly been surprised by the petty nature of this attack. With so many issues facing the district, from clogged traffic to burdensome taxes, why someone would focus on whether I updated a social media account is beyond me. Could it be that I am black conservative, the most frightening thing to the Democratic Party and liberal media?”

When asked why Austion submitted the false information for publication on Potomac Local, Loftus, who became Austion’s campaign manager July 1, responded: “I can’t comment on anything that was provided to you previously in the campaign as I was not here.”

Austion not only falsely told Potomac Local readers he had a Master’s Degree, but he also listed the degree on his personal LinkedIn page, too.

Austion was vetted by the Stafford County Republican Committee and was GOP’s top pick to run for the swing district which leans Republican in Stafford and Democratic in Prince William.

Stafford County Republican Committee Chair Danielle Davis issued this statement via email to Potomac Local:

“I don’t know how much there is left to say on this issue. Laquan made an administrative error based on timing and availability of his time. He took full responsibility for the error. The truly interesting story is how he grew up with very little and has made a successful life for himself with his wife, Alicia. His story is compelling and shows what determination and hard work can accomplish.

We need to focus on what is important for Virginians – economic growth, traffic relief, and other issues that face this region on a daily basis. Laquan has a solid vision for his area and will bring strong leadership to Richmond for House of Delegates District #02.”

Sources inside the Republican Party told Potomac Local Austion was on a short list of available candidates to run for the seat.

After the 2nd District was moved from southwest Virginia to Northern Virginia in a 2010 redistricting effort, Dudenhefer was the first to win the seat in the November 2011 General Election. The Republican lost the seat two years later to Prince William Democrat Micheal Futrell.

Dudenhefer won back the seat in 2015. In January, he broke the news first to Potomac Local he would not seek reelection to the House of Delegates. He’s now trying to reclaim his seat on the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, a political job he held before he became Delegate.

Austion faces Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy, of Woodbridge, a professor at Northern Virginia Community College. She beat out Josh King in a June Primary recount by 12 votes.

Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 7. 

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