Fimian’s Urban League No-Show Draws Ire of Fellow Republican

It was a rough night for 11th Congressional District GOP candidate Keith Fimian, at a candidate forum in Arlington Tuesday, and he wasn’t even there to experience it.



AN EMPTY SPOT AT THE TABLE in Arlington Tuesday night had been reserved for no-show GOP candidate Keith Fimian, flanked by Democratic incumbent Gerry Connolly (left in photo) and Libertarian David Dotson. The MC at the podium was CBS News national political correspondent Jamal Simmons. (Photo: News-Press)


It was a rough night for 11th Congressional District GOP candidate Keith Fimian, at a candidate forum in Arlington Tuesday, and he wasn’t even there to experience it.

Fimian took some considerable heat, not only from his opponents, Democratic incumbent Gerry Connolly, but from his Republican Party colleague running in the adjacent 8th District for a no-show at a candidate’s forum hosted by one the region’s leading African-American advocacy organizations, the Urban League.

According to event officials, Fimian had promised to show up, but his absence was underscored by an empty chair left on the podium between Connolly and Libertarian Party candidate David Dotson.

The Urban League’s mission is described on its website as “to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.” Tuesday’s candidates’ debate was for the benefit of its Young Professionals Network of Northern Virginia.

Fimian’s no-show was not taken lightly, even among small-business-owning Republican sympathizers present who wore pro-GOP pins.

Connolly, locked in a tough battle for re-election against Fimian, didn’t wait to lash out at his opponent the minute he was invited to speak.

“You’ve got to show up. It’s a travesty that my foe didn’t show. It shows a lack of respect.” He added, “I’ve never seen my opponent show up to talk about civil rights or human rights issues.”

But the lashing came not only from Connolly, was was predictable, but also from the U.S. Army Colonel (ret.) Patrick Murray, a man with 24 years of military service running as the Republican nominee to face 10-term Rep. Jim Moran in Arlington’s 8th District.

“It’s important to be willing to be there,” he told the audience of over 50, in reference to Fimian’s absence.

(It is far more likely that Fimian will show up for another debate among business-minded constituents, the one hosted by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday at a location on the George Mason University campus. That group may be better heeled than Urban League Young Professionals, but they still endorsed Connolly in his first run for Congress in 2008, when his opponent then was also Fimian).

Despite Fimian’s no-show Tuesday in North Arlington, the Urban League debate, the organization’s sixth annual, went on as planned, facilitated by moderator Jamal Simmons, a CBS national news political analyst.

Connolly paired off against Dotson, the Libertarian, who insisted he should not be confused with a Republican, although his anti-government, anti-regulation themes were fodder for Connolly to go after GOP policies, generally.

Connolly hailed President Obama’s economic recovery efforts, saying his stimulus efforts have 3.5 million jobs nationally. With the economy now turning around from being on the brink of the worst depression ever, he said, “Obama has done in 18 months what it took FDR eight years to do.”

Moran and Murray then faced off, with Moran claiming that under President Bush in the last decade, 90 percent of the income growth in America went to the top 10 percent of the wealthiest people. He said that Obama is “doing the right thing 100 percent of the time, and if the legislative branch would support him, “he has the capacity to be one of the greatest presidents in U.S. history.”
He praised Obama for reigning in Wall Street excesses, and when asked about extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, Murray distinguished himself from Moran by saying, “I don’t want the federal government telling anyone how much they can earn.”

Both pledged to work in a bi-partisan way if elected, with Moran citing the way he worked collaboratively with Republican Rep. Tom Davis on regional issues in the past. Now, however, “the Republicans in Congress are the least responsible than at any time I have seen.”

“I have a vision of a greater society where everyone counts,” Moran concluded. “That’s what keeps me running.”