Local Commentary

Our Man In Arlington

Labor Day opened with a cup of coffee and our putting out the flag. This has always been something of a ritual with us. We always fly the flag on our secular and patriotic holidays.

Then, at noon, we went to a birthday party for one of our grandchildren, who had just turned four and was excited about going to school on Tuesday. Star Wars dominated his birthday presents, along with an awesome bubble machine. Life can’t get much better than that.

Our final destination was the annual Arlington Democratic Party Labor Day Chili Cook-off at the Lyon Park Community Center on North Fillmore Street. The chili cook-off has been a tradition here in Arlington for about as long as I can remember. It is the kickoff of the Arlington Democratic fall campaign – an annual event because we are one of the few political jurisdictions in the country I know of that has a fall election every year because of the staggered terms of the members of the Arlington County Board and the School Board.

The main event is the chili cook-off. About a dozen Democrats participate every year with a variety of chili dishes that sometimes challenge the imagination. This year, for example, Congressman Jim Moran’s Irish Chuck Wagon Chili, prepared by Bryan Snow, was garnished with bright green spaghetti. I kid you not. School Board candidate Sally Baird’s Grade A chili, prepared by Lynn and Mark Dorfman, was vegetarian. I think “vegetarian” chili might be a contradiction in terms, but who cares!

The other chilies were uniformly excellent – or at least edible – and everyone had a grand time judging and eating them.

Music was provided by the band The Constituents, led by Arlington’s Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, and the excellent reggae guitarist, Rameza. One of the better numbers was “Hit the Road George,” and don’t you come back no more no more no more no more.

Almost all of Arlington’s Democratic candidates this fall were introduced, including Congressman Jim Moran, County Board Chair Chris Zimmerman, and School Board candidate Sally Baird. Democratic senatorial candidate Jim Webb could not attend because he was seeing his son off for a tour of duty in Iraq. He had a chili there, though (Jean Crawford’s “Born Eating”) and it wasn’t half bad!

And there was Arlington’s famous Moon Jump, last seen at the County Fair, which had kids of all ages jumping all over the place. There may be something to say about Democrats bouncing every which way on a simulation of the moon, but I won’t say it. I’ll leave that up to our Republican friends.

Well over a hundred people were there, but there was really only one topic of conversation, the upcoming November election. There was little or no conjecture about the reelection campaigns of our eighth district Congressman Moran or County Board Chair Chris Zimmerman. They appear to be shoo-ins. There was a bit more concern about School Board endorsee Sally Baird who is facing a significant challenge from Independent Cecelia Espenoza. Espenoza could not run for the Democratic endorsement because she is a federal employee, but many consider her a Democrat anyway. Baird will likely win, but it is clear that local Democrats will have to expend a bit of energy on her behalf if they want their endorsee to win.

The real excitement was about the George Allen-Jim Webb race for U.S. Senate. Major national polls show Webb running a dead heat with Allen, after Allen’s verbal train wreck last month. This is really a race to watch. If Webb wins, watch Congress shift over to the Democratic column, too.