Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

Governor Tim Kaine was back in town on Saturday. This is far from an unusual occurrence, since the governor seems to enjoy frequent visits to the jurisdiction that gave him one his highest margins of victory in the 2005 gubernatorial election.

He was here for the gala reelection fundraiser for Arlington’s State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple in the glittering Tiffany Gallery of the Arlington Arts Center.

It was a great party with huge mounds of delicious food, some excellent wines, and camaraderie among Democrats of all stripes, and some Republicans too!

The Governor was feeling his oats – he gave us a rousing campaign speech not only for Senator Whipple, but also in his quest to return the State Senate to a Democratic majority, and maybe even the House of Delegates. The latter is much more questionable, but Democrats stand a real chance of increasing their representation in the November election.

“Turn Virginia Blue” is the mission statement; “21 – 51” is the battle cry (the numbers needed for a majority in the senate and the house respectively.)

Senator Whipple is the leader of the senate’s Democratic Caucus, and one of the most powerful people in the Senate, in spite of her minority status. As a Democratic leader, she has taken on the responsibility of funneling a significant amount of money into key Senate races all over the state in the drive to secure a Democratic majority.

The publicity for this fundraiser, in fact, emphasized this even more than raising money for her reelection campaign. “Her top priority: A Democratic Majority in the Senate” was emblazoned over a picture of the state capitol on the cover of the invitation.

Her campaign plan not only calls for her to send money downstate, but also to send herself into the key campaigns. These plans were first laid out when it appeared that she would have no opponent. Since then, however, a Green Party candidate has appeared, which may require paring down her out of district schedule a bit. It is doubtful that her opponent will cause much of a problem, however.

Governor Kaine’s and Senator Whipple’s quest is critically important for the future economic health of Northern Virginia.

Over the past few years, a group of troglodyte Republican Senators (and a few delegates, too) have joined together to stymie almost all legislation that would benefit Northern Virginia, and much of the rest of the state. Transportation issues leap to mind, but there are many other examples, too. This year, we will also suffer the loss of some key moderate Republican leaders such as Senator John Chichester and Fairfax Delegate Vince Callahan who have been valuable voices of reason in an increasingly reactionary General Assembly.

There are signs that Virginians are growing weary of the negative influence these legislators are having on their lives and livelihoods, but it will take a strong effort to channel this unrest into positive – i.e. Democratic – electoral results. The election of Senator Jim Webb last November has energized moderate Virginians of both parties.

This General Assembly election may well be one of the most important for the well-being of the entire state in several decades.

If the enthusiasm shown at Saturday’s fundraiser is any indication, it may well be a very successful year.