Local Commentary

Our Man In Arlington

Last Saturday, I ventured out of Arlington to Annandale for a large Democratic rally for Jim Webb, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. The three Northern Virginia Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives were there too – Jim Moran (8th) Andy Hurst (11th) and Judy Federer (10th). Rounding out the star-studded political cast were Governor Tim Kaine and ex-presidential candidate and former Governor Mark Warner.

But the star was Jim Webb, who unleashed a stem-winding attack on George Allen’s literary criticisms of his book. Allen is shocked – shocked – that some of Webb’s novels about the mental and physical brutality of war mentioned sex. “I’ve written more books than George Allen has read his entire life,” Webb bellowed to thunderous applause.

 I am going out on a limb and predicting a narrow Webb win statewide. He will sweep Arlington.

Back in Arlington, the countdown to Election Day has begun among all of us political junkies. There is not much suspense about the elections in Arlington. County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman will lead local Democrats in sweeping most of the races for local and federal offices. The only question is by how much. Governor Tim Kaine carried Arlington by about 74% last year – so that is the goal.

The one exception is the race for the school board. It appears to be a tossup between Democratic nominee Sally Baird and independent Cecilia Espinosa, who I am told is really a Democrat, but could not run for the Democratic endorsement as a federal employee. Both are excellent candidates, but many Democrats with whom I have spoken are voting for Espinosa as the more experienced candidate and who can provide an important link to the Latino community.

On the constitutional issues, there should be one no and two yeses.

The most controversial issue on the ballot this year is the constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage, a draconian measure that is about as mean-spirited as you can get. Far from honoring the “traditional” institution of marriage, in my mind it dishonors the institution in a major way. And it endangers a whole host of contractual relationships between any two people – straight or gay, man or woman.

 Arlington will most likely record a strong vote against the amendment, but the mood of the rest of the state remains unclear. Right now, I would expect that the amendment would carry by a relatively large margin in the rest of the state. However, the super-conservative Richmond Times Dispatch recently came out against the amendment on Monday. The less conservative Virginia Pilot has already come out against the amendment. If you see other conservative Virginia newspapers doing the same in the next week, you probably will watch the amendment go down the tubes next Tuesday evening.

The two other constitutional amendments should be supported. Amendment 2 allows special tax districts for the purpose of eliminating blighted regions. Amendment 3 removes an archaic law prohibiting churches from incorporating. This would bring Virginia’s law in conformity with federal law.

 Tuesday’s election is one of the most important elections nationwide that we have had in a generation. It is important that you vote, regardless of your political persuasion. I’ll see you at the polls on Tuesday.