Obama Opens N.Va. Office in F.C., Clinton Visits Arlington

Virginia Primaries Tuesday for Dem, GOP Rivals

With no conclusive outcome for either party following the 24 primaries on so-called Super Tuesday, the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns headed into their next round this weekend, which includes the “Potomac primaries” in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia next Tuesday.

Due to the razor thin margin of popular votes separating Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, mobilization efforts underway in Northern Virginia are expected to produce record turnouts for a primary election.

Both candidates had a sustained presence here in recent months, attracting supporters to gala fundraisers here and in the District. Clinton has located her national campaign headquarters in the Ballston section of Arlington, and Obama began a heavy barrage of television ads last month.

This week the effort was stepped up on both sides. Clinton came from New York City, where she received the results of Super Tuesday, to hold a press opportunity for the media at her campaign headquarters yesterday afternoon.

Obama opened his official Northern Virginia campaign headquarters in the City of Falls Church on Monday, although phone-banks were not installed as of yesterday. The office will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for volunteer efforts through Monday. It is on the third floor at 400 N. Washington St.

Campaign spokesman Nancy McBride told the News-Press yesterday that the results of Super Tuesday were heartening for the Obama campaign, and that Virginia, especially Northern Virginia, will be key to their efforts going forward.

The Clinton campaign announced a major public rally featuring their candidate today at 2 p.m., at the Washington Lee High School, near her campaign headquarters at 1300 N. Quincy Street. They have also announced that Clinton will appear at the Democratic Party of Virginia’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond, Saturday night.

Late last night, confirmation came that Obama would also be there.

There has been no other word of Obama’s schedule in Virginia as of press time, last night. McBride said that there was nothing firm, or even talked about by press time.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, front-runner John McCain began running television spots in Virginia yesterday. For all three Republican candidates, the only event in the region they’ve announced plans to attend is the annual convention of the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington, D.C., on Friday. All three are slated to speak there.

In the white-hot Clinton-Obama contest, however, top Democrats in Virginia have taken their respective sides, and there are heavy hitters in both camps.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine became one of the first major political leaders in the U.S. to endorse Obama over a year ago. Obama had helped Kaine in his governor’s race in 2005, and Kaine told the News-Press recently that he felt Obama would “bring a lot of new life and participation to the party.”

“That’s what I’m all about,” Kaine said. “I want to see more and more people becoming involved in the political process.”

Former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer, a Falls Church businessman, served as a key fundraiser for Obama, and endorsements in this area have come from the likes of State Delegates Jim Scott and Bob Hull, and the progressive “Raising Kaine” blog.

Clinton supporters include State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, the highest-ranking Democrat in the state legislature, and State Delegates Al Eisenberg, Adam Ebbin and Paul Smedberg, as well as Arlington-based Democratic National Committee member Mame Reiley, Larry Byrne and the Falls Church News-Press.

Her campaign steering committee includes Adam Parkhomenko of Arlington as director of Virginia Political Outreach. Parkhomenko made headlines, including a major feature in the News-Press, as a 17-year-old in 2003 when he launched his own “Draft Hillary” effort for the 2004 presidential campaign.

The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday. Citizens are free to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary.