Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington

bartonmugLast Monday evening, Jay Fisette had the Arlington campaign event of the year. It was most welcome, because Arlington Democrats were becoming very bored during the long dead period between campaigns – it has been more than a week! Now we are off and running again for the November state-wide races.

bartonmugLast Monday evening, Jay Fisette had the Arlington campaign event of the year. It was most welcome, because Arlington Democrats were becoming very bored during the long dead period between campaigns – it has been more than a week! Now we are off and running again for the November state-wide races.

Just in case you don’t know, Jay is running for his fourth full term as a member of the Arlington County Board. Jay has been an excellent member and chair of the County Board, and he will be a shoo-in; but we have to raise money anyway. It’s the Arlington Way!

But Jay’s event was much more than the kickoff for the County Board race. It had all the trappings of the kick-off of the state race. Everybody was there – some two hundred of them in the beautiful lobby of the Signature Theater in Shirlington. Creigh Deeds led off the luminaries fresh from his stunning victory in the Democratic Gubernatorial primary, along with Lt. Governor Candidate Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General.

Del. Ken Plum, chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Delegates was there trolling for support to switch the House from Republican to Democratic as was Arlington’s own Mary Margaret Whipple who holds a similar position in the Virginia Senate. There were also several Democratic House of Delegate candidates from other jurisdictions, apparently hoping that the Arlington Democratic magic (meaning money, of course) would rub off on them.

And of course, almost all of Arlington’s numerous office holders were there, too many to name in this short column. And, most importantly, there were a couple of hundred pumped-up workers and contributors who make Arlington such a dynamic political hot spot.

While the event marked the kickoff of Jay’s post-primary campaign for County Board, the buzz in the room went far beyond that. Thoughtful Northern Virginians have come to believe that a total Democratic victory is of primary importance for the region to continue to grow and prosper.  Republicans in the General Assembly have almost bled the region dry.  There must be huge infrastructure investments, more progressive social policies and more support for Northern Virginia’s educational institutions. Otherwise, we are really threatened with a steady decline, or so most students of urban development tell us.  Republican legislatures and governors have more often than not given us the back of their hand.

The quiet excitement throughout the room was generated by the belief that it can happen – that it will happen.  They were there hoping some of Arlington’s electoral magic might rub off on them. It’s going to take remarkably hard work to make it all come about.

Much of this optimism has been generated by the election of President Obama last year. I do not remember such a positive outpouring of pure optimism since the election of John F. Kennedy. We are seeing that optimism being positively channeled in this year’s election campaigns. I hope it lasts.

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