Local Commentary

Our Man In Arlington

Last weekend was a heavy political weekend for the Bartons.

It led off on Friday evening with a dinner-auction for the Democratic candidates for Arlington County Board and School Board.  Current Board Chair Chris Zimmerman is running for reelection and the Democratic nominee for school board is political newcomer Sally Baird.

This event has become an Arlington Democratic tradition, held in one form or another for at least thirty years.  When I say “one form or another,” I am referring mainly to the food.  For a long time, the main course was lasagna of almost every imaginable variation.  Then chicken tetrazini snuck in there for awhile.  And of course, there has always been a major salad made by a line of master salad makers.  This year, we were treated to an excellent beef brisket as the main course.

The major – in fact, the only – entertainment was a spirited auction led by several excellent and often very funny auctioneers.  Some twenty items were on the block, including an extended weekend at a great bed and breakfast in New Mexico, an all-American Fourth of July dinner capped by a bird’s eye view of the Washington Monument fireworks from the 16th floor of an Arlington high-rise, and dinner and music at the Birchmere.

Saturday brought two more Democratic events.  First was the delivery of the fabled Arlington Democratic Messenger.  Started more than twenty years ago, the major purpose of the Messenger is to get legions of Democratic workers out in their neighborhoods preaching the gospel.  The goal is to deliver the platforms of all the Democratic candidates to every household in Arlington.  This relatively easy to do in Arlington’s single-family home neighborhoods; a little more difficult in apartments that usually discourage door-to-door delivery.  But the important thing in this process is the energizing of campaign workers, and it works very well.

By the way, if you haven’t gotten one yet, look for it.  It is a very good looking piece this year, packed with good information about the candidates.

Finally, Saturday afternoon, we drove down to King George County on the Rappahannock River to former Governor Mark Warner’s “Almost” Annual Pig Roast.  Here, the emphasis was on state and national politics – particularly relevant with Mark Warner traveling all over the United States “testing the waters” for a Presidential run in 2008.  There were several Mark Warner for President tee shirts and bumper strips and no one was discouraging their display.  I’ll leave it to you as to whether or not Warner is running for President.

The mood was one of cautious optimism – with the emphasis on optimism – for some significant Democratic victories in Virginia’s congressional races this year.  The main topic of conversation was, of course, Jim Webb’s bid to unseat Senator George Allen.  Webb was there, and appeared very upbeat.  The feeling was that Webb was improving every day and stood an excellent chance of unseating Allen in November.  There was also much talk about the challenges to two Republican U.S. House members:  Thelma Drake in the 2nd Congressional District and Jo Ann Davis in the 1st Congressional District.  Democratic challengers Phil Kellam and Shawn O’Donnell are mounting strong campaigns.

One thing is for certain, however.  Defeat of these three Virginia Republicans will mean that the country will sweep in a Democratic House and Senate in November – an event of epic proportions.

We are not there yet and perhaps never will be.  But it was a great to dream during an almost picture perfect weekend.