Local Commentary

Our Man In Arlington

Last Saturday evening, we went out to the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center for the Eighth Congressional District’s Fifteenth Annual Kennedy-King Dinner.

You could feel the excitement build as several hundred eighth district Democrats poured into the room. The source of the excitement, of course, was the sweet taste of victory in the statewide General Assembly elections coming up in less than three weeks from today.

The Eighth Congressional District, consisting primarily of Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church, with a narrow neck reaching out to Reston, is the most Democratic district in Virginia. The excitement was not so much over the anticipated Democratic victories for state and local offices within the District, that’s a given, but the tantalizing prospect of Virginia’s turning blue this year and in next year’s Federal elections.
The parade of Democratic luminaries was led by Senator Jim Webb, who was the keynote speaker. Webb spoke movingly of his own personal remembrances of both Kennedy’s and King’s assassination in that very dark year, 1968. And he spoke very encouragingly of his efforts downstate working to elect Democrats to both the state House of Delegates and Senate.

Governor Tim Kaine also showed up to great applause and enthusiasm. He spoke encouragingly of his extensive efforts to put a Democratic majority in the General Assembly. And he worked his way through the crowd shaking just about everybody’s hand including Your Man in Arlington.

And of course, the Eighth District leader, Congressman Jim Moran had us up and cheering not once, but twice. You can say what you want about Moran (and many have), but he always speaks with great passion.

Arlington’s own Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus spoke convincingly of the work that she and others have done to elect a Democratic Senate. If that happens, and I think it will, she will be a powerful person in the new Senate.

Then there was the buzz running through the crowd of Mark Warner’s recent announcement of his run for the United States Senate. Webb amusingly referred to the fact that Warner would be Virginia’s junior senator. Webb’s meteoric rise to senior senator status in two brief years was happily noted.

Bringing up the rear, so to speak, was Brian Moran, Jim’s brother, chair of the House of Delegates Democratic Caucus, and probable candidate for Governor in 2009. He, too, has been crossing the state to elect a Democratic House of Delegates and getting his name better known in anticipation of the statewide race.

So here was the scenario that so titillated all of us. The November election would elect a majority of Democrats to the Senate and – more of a long shot – to the House of Delegates. Then, 2008 would bring in a second Democratic national Senator (Mark Warner), and a Democratic majority for whomever we nominated for President (even Hilary!). Then 2009 could bring a Democratic House of Delegates and a third Democratic Governor in a row.

Then, guess what? After the 2010 census, Democrats would control all of the offices that would craft the new boundaries for both the General Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives. Pay back time for the Republican gerrymandering after the 2000 census. I am sure, though, that we Democrats would not be that crass!

Fantasy? I don’t think so. Difficult to achieve? Most certainly. But that didn’t faze anyone Saturday night. We were in our own field of dreams.