The self-proclaimed head of the Northern Virginia chapter of the right-wing Tea Baggers movement that disrupted town hall meetings across the U.S. last summer, was joined by more than a dozen of his ilk to descend on a Falls Church League of Women Voters candidates forum in the F.C. Community Center tonight, using loud, derisive laughter and shouts to interrupt answers from 53rd District State Del. Incumbent Democrat Jim Scott.
The small throng crammed “standing room only” into a small room at the Community Center, resulting in a much larger turnout than the League had planned for. They were there in support of Scott’s Republican opponent, Chris Merola. The Tea Bagger leader challenged Scott on the issue of why he didn’t respond to the Tea Bagger questionaire, and if he planned to. Scott said simply, “No.”
Merola spent most of the evening pinning budget shortfalls and cuts on Scott, only to have Scott repeatedly reply by saying it was due to the fact that Merola’s party has had the majority in the House of Delegates for the last decade, and if anyone should be blamed, it should be them.
While Scott said he does not intend to respond to the Tea Baggers’ questionnaire, Merola has, and in it he stated that he feels the “increase in Virginia’s Medicaid spending between 1998 and 2006” was “excessive.” He answered “yes” to the question, “Would you let transportation compete with public education, public safety and healthcare for sales and income tax revenues.” That answer contradicted what Merrola said at the tonight’s forum, when he said he would not take money from the state’s general fund for transportation improvements.
A bone of contention at Wednesday’s debate was Del. Scott’s claim that there is an image of a woman wearing a t-shirt saying, “I’d Rather Be Waterboarding,” on Merola’s web site. Merola ferociously denied that, but in fact, the image appears as a retail advertisement for a line of clothing on a conservative web site, “Town Hall.Com,” where Merola’s column, “Blogging Reagan” appears (http://tinyurl.com/yjweyvm).