Local Commentary

The Little City Weed

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The Republican Party endorsed the nonpartisan city council campaigns of Ira Kaylin and Johannah Barry in the recent city elections. Good for them; but what a teachable moment for agonizingly complacent Democrats in a solidly progressive community.

 

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The Republican Party endorsed the nonpartisan city council campaigns of Ira Kaylin and Johannah Barry in the recent city elections. Good for them; but what a teachable moment for agonizingly complacent Democrats in a solidly progressive community.

The headline of the conservative Virginia Values Voter PAC website shouted the story: “Local Elections Prove Successful for GOP.” The article explained in Falls Church “… two Republican-endorsed candidates [Barry and Kaylin] won seats on the town council…” thanks to the endorsement of the local Republican committee, and that as fiscal conservatives Kaylin and Barry will “definitely bring accountability to the town council.” (See virginiavaluevoterspac.org). The news was echo-chambered across the internets, helpfully cross-posted on conservative social media sites. The Virginia Values Voter PAC is a Virginia political action committee run by associates of the conservative Family Research Council and FRCAction PAC (whose most recent blog headlines helpfully include articles on “The Party of Yawn Slackers Unite, Oh and Happy Waffle Day” and “Why Do the Dead Vote for Democrats?”).

Having the GOP trumpet about the election of its local candidates was helpful. See, I try to keep up with local political events, but admit to often being confused about who is beholden to whom in city elections.

Kaylin has contributed to statewide Democratic campaigns in recent years, and city Democrats had the honor of Barry and Kaylin’s company at the 2101 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner hosted by the Falls Church City Democratic Committee. We munched on pot luck together as local Democrats were honored and speakers distributed blue meat in political speeches. I have attended the partisan event for twelve years or so, but have never seen Kaylin or Barry. But the party is a big tent. Welcome and please pass some of Ed Strait’s fried chicken.

Right after the Democratic event ends, I start seeing Kaylin-Barry yard signs appear in most of the hard core local Republican houses. The Kaylin-Barry campaign then issued a conservative manifesto which vowed to cut school funding, reign in spending, cut taxes, stop investment in local affordable housing, and put an end to moving city elections to November where three times as many city residents vote.

It makes sense to me now that I know Kaylin-Barry were endorsed by the GOP and have moored themselves to political agenda of the Virginia Values Voter and Family Research Council conservatives. Why did Kaylin and Barry not just say this during the campaign? Why the pretense about associating with local Democratic organizations?

Actually, the question is misplaced. I know why the candidates were duplicit … they were just trying to get elected.

The real question is why were local Democrats silent? Why does the local Democratic committee allow its brand to be used by conservatives and not speak out, through voter communication or its own endorsement process, when the local Republican committee is endorsing city council candidates?  How does allowing GOP-endorsed candidates to run stealth campaigns in an overwhelmingly Democratic jurisdiction help perfect the Democratic Party of Virginia or help promote transparency in local elections?

 


Michael Gardner is a quixotic citizen and founder of the Blueweeds community blog.