Local Commentary

Editorial: Partisanship Soils F.C. Elections

It came to our attention just this week that the website for the Virginia Values Voters political action committee, linked to the arch-conservative Family Research Council, reported in May that two Falls Church City Council candidates elected on May 4 had done so with the endorsement of the Republican Party.

Since one of those candidates, now-Councilman Ira Kaylin, had explicitly denied receiving GOP backing when questioned pointedly by the News-Press prior to the election, we are puzzled by the website’s claim. Were they simply wrong? If so, where did they come up with that information? If they were right, then was Mr. Kaylin unaware of such an endorsement?

No matter which scenario is the right one, the reporting on the arch-conservative website suggests that networks linked to that group, and presumably the wider GOP, were supporting the candidacies of Kaylin and Johannah Barry, and could have had a major impact on getting out the vote for them.

It dissolves any naiveté or charade that so-called “partisan politics” have no place Falls Church municipal elections. Forget the worries along these lines expressed by many opposed to moving the City elections from May to November, which the Council voted to do last January. Partisanship was already a factor in last May’s election, no matter who was aware of it, or not.

By the same token, there will be no way to keep it out of the next City Council election in November 2011. Since partisan voter patterns in Falls Church is normally about two-to-one in favor of the Democrats, it perhaps was not the smartest move for Republicans, or the Virginia Values Voters PAC, to have called major party partisanship into the mix this spring.

Now, the Democrats have no choice but to do what so many have been reluctant to concede. They must fight fire with fire, and prepare to weigh in forcefully in the next Falls Church election. The challenge falls to the Falls Church City Democratic Committee, which has acted in a strangely schizophrenic manner regarding its role in City electoral politics over the last decade.

Attempts led by the late former City Treasurer Bob Morrison to convince the City’s Democratic Committee to adopt local election endorsement powers failed over 10 years ago, but then were rekindled when a change in the group’s leadership occurred. In early 2006, the committee in a split vote agreed it would get involved, but that raised the ire of the “old guard” of the City’s venerable non-partisan political vetting group, the Citizens for a Better City (CBC), so much so that CBCers vowed, but failed, to organize a boycott of the local Dems’ annual fundraising dinner.

Then, with yet another change at the top of the Democratic Committee, another vote was taken reverting the group back to staying out of the City’s local elections, which is how things stand today. But, we now presume, not for long.