The chair of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee officially announced yesterday that the campaign of Democratic Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama is opening an office in the downtown area of the City of Falls Church, at 350 S. Washington St.FCCDC Chair Betty Coll made the announcement through an e-mail circulated yesterday morning.
It came shortly after the News-Press was notified by a representative of the landlord, the Falls Church Housing Corporation, that a four-month lease on the office was to be signed yesterday, and the move-in to begin today.
The office will be one of 32 around Virginia that the Obama campaign is in the process of opening, confirming reports that Obama considers Virginia a critical “battleground state,” on the level of Ohio or Florida, in play in this November’s election.
Kyle Lierman, who will be in charge of the office here, told the News-Press in a phone interview that it will soon be filled with banks of telephones and will be the logistical center for a massive roster of volunteers campaigning in Falls Church and the Mason and Providence Districts of Fairfax County.
The area is critical to Obama’s chances for bringing Virginia into the Democratic column for president for the first time since 1964. In three close statewide elections this decade, overwhelmingly lopsided Democratic margins in the area and others in eastern Fairfax County were decisive for the victories of Gov. Mark Warner in 2001, Gov. Tim Kaine in 2005 and Sen. Jim Webb in 2006.
Democratic officials contacted by the News-Press could not recall the last time a Democratic presidential nominee opened a campaign office in Northern Virginia, much less a total of 32 statewide.
Last year, the Obama campaign opened an office in the City of Falls Church that became the Northern Virginia center for his efforts to win the Democratic primary.
In 2003, when he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president, Gov. Howard Dean opened a campaign office in the City of Falls Church, which became a nest of relentless activity.
In August 2003, with his campaign hitting a fever pitch, Dean held a rally in Falls Church’s Cherry Hill Park that drew over 5,000 young, energetic and idealistic supporters. A lot of those same people are now active in the Obama campaign here.
Coll reported that the best entry to the 350 S. Washington St. building is off Maple Avenue. It is expected that many volunteers from the neighborhoods immediately around the location, including those of high school age, may simply show up at the office.
“There is no doubt that this is going to help our retailers in downtown Falls Church,” Falls Church Chamber of Commerce executive director Sally Cole said in comments to the News-Press yesterday.
“We expect hundreds of volunteers from all over the region to discover the dining and retail options in Falls Church, and even if they’re too busy to utilize them a lot during the campaign, they will become familiar with them and return here often in the future,” she said.
She said that local civic events, such as the Taste of Falls Church and the Falls Church Fall Festival, slated for Sept. 13, will take place only a few blocks away, and should attract a lot of Obama campaign efforts, as well as hungry volunteers.
The Obama campaign has a total of seven staff members working in Fairfax County, each responsible for a given region of the million-population county. The overall regional director is Luke McGowan, while Victoria Brenton is in charge of the Springfield area, Cindy Fethian in Braddock, Famid Sinha in Sully and Fairfax City, Mike Lamb in Lee and Mt. Vernon, Aveek Majumdar in Hunter Mill and Drainsville, and Lierman in Mason, Providence and Falls Church.
The campaign of Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain has so far announced the opening of two offices in Virginia, one in Virginia Beach and another in Roanoke.