Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

bartonmugTuesday morning, I was awakened at about six by a great clap of thunder and the pounding sound of heavy rain. It marked the opening of the Democratic primary for statewide offices and the House of Delegate race in Arlington and throughout the state.

I was scheduled to work my precinct poll for four hours in the morning and three hours in the evening until closing time at 7 p.m. I let the tremendous thunderstorm play out and arrived at my duty station at about 7:15 a.m., and joined a hearty band of about six passing out the literature for their candidates, or at least bellowing at the voters as they walked the gauntlet.

The only problem was that we were largely talking to each other. Turnout was slight – only 13.11% of Arlington’s eligible voters voted for Governor, and many of those had already voted absentee. It seemed at times that there were more candidates’ signs outside the poll than there were voters inside. Even at that, Arlington’s turnout was more than twice the state’s turnout.

I left my poll shortly before 7 p.m., had a short dinner with friends, then set out to make the rounds of the “victory” parties. But when I turned on the radio in my car, I was very surprised that the state-wide results had already been announced, the victory and concession speeches had already been given, and no one was left at any of the parties. I do not remember a time in my long run in politics when everything was wrapped up so early. I turned around and went back home.

Of course, the stunning surprise was Creigh Deeds’ victory and the margin by which he won it. I knew of no polls throughout the campaign that came even remotely close to predicting this outcome. Statewide, Deeds received 49.73% to McAuliffe’s 26.41% and Moran’s 23.84% and in Arlington the vote was Deeds – 47.22%, Moran – 36.84%, and McAuliffe – 15.93%.

Locally, the results bore out my prediction that the 47th District House of Delegates race would be won by stamina rather than charisma. The simple fact is that Patrick Hope had more sweat equity than his four opponents, though they certainly worked hard, too. Hope also brings with him solid community experience. I expect him to win easily in the fall.

Deeds will also be a very strong candidate for Governor in the fall, and I predict that he also will win. The Republicans have chosen a very conservative candidate who no longer fits the type of Governor the state wants and needs. I believe that both Brian Moran (my candidate) and Terry McAuliffe would have been good Governors, too. But truth be known, I believe that the Democrats chose the strongest candidate for the fall election.

The Democrats have also chosen an almost perfectly balanced ticket – at least geographically, with Jody Wagner (Lieutenant Governor) from Hampton Roads, Steve Shannon (Attorney General) from Northern Virginia, and Deeds from the rest of the state.

It is going to be an interesting and hard fought race this fall.