President Clinton to Headline McLean Event to Buoy Dems in Virginia Senate

Narrow Democratic Edge in Senate Key To November Election

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, no less, in his only election-campaign related appearance this fall, is coming to McLean on Oct. 28 to headline a fundraising event to help Democrats retain their slim 22-18 margin in the Virginia State Senate through this November’s election.

The state senate now stands, as Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has said, as “the backstop that keeps the wild pitches from the House from hitting the fans.”

Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola, now running for the open seat in the 31st State Senate district, told supporters at a rally in Arlington Tuesday that the Republican-controlled House of Delegates in Richmond passed 24 vicious anti-immigrant bills in its last session, and the Democratic-led Senate killed all of them.

With the statehouse in Republican hands, she noted, the Senate “is the only protection for Virginia citizens who want a centrist government that is going to work.”

On a national level, Republicans recognize the high stakes in this November’s Virginia legislative elections, and have targeted key races where they think they can engineer a shift from a Democrat to a Republican senator. They need to “flip” only two of the state’s 40 senate districts that way to attain a senate majority, as the Republican lieutenant governor Bill Bolling would have the tie-breaker vote in any 20-20 deadlocks.

According to State Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, who chose not to run for a fifth term from the 31st District but is now tasked with orchestrating the Democrats’ efforts to hold onto the Senate, there are key races in southwest Virginia, the Tidewater area, and a couple in Northern Virginia that will be key to who controls the Senate next January.

Whipple, who said Democrats remain strong in all the key districts but need to fight hard, identified the targeted races as these:

In Southwest, incumbent Democrat Edd Houck versus Republican Bryce Reeves in the 17th District, incumbent Democrat Phil Puckett versus Republican Adam Light in the 38th, Democrat Bert Dodson versus Republican Tom Garrett for an open seat in the 22nd, and incumbent Democrat Roscow Reynolds versus Republican William Stanley and independent Jeff Davis in the 20th.

In Tidewater, she named the race pitting incumbent Democrat Ralph Northam against Republican Ben Loyola as key.

In Northern Virginia, the pointed to Favola’s race against Republican Caren Merrick for the open seat in the 31st and incumbent Democrat George Barker’s race against Republican Miller Baker as the most competitive ones. Favola’s is challenging if only because the 31st District was redrawn in Richmond in the spring, moving it out of Falls Church and diminishing its Arlington base westward. Favola noted that only 43 percent of residents of the newly-drawn district probably even know her.

President Clinton’s appearance here will be at the home of his long-time personal friend, former Democratic National Committee chair and Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. Opportunities at more intimate private reception face-time with the president come at $10,000 for event hosts and $5,000 for co-hosts, and at $1,000 for those signing up for a general reception.

McAuliffe, making no bones that he plans for run again for governor in 2013 after failing to win the Democratic primary in 2009, has been stumping for fellow Democrats around Virginia non-stop this season. He delivered one of his trademark high-powered pep talks to an event in support of State Del. Kaye Kory in the Sleepy Hollow section of Falls Church last week. A major draw, the quasi-celebrity filled the home of Mark Deal even though Kory faces only nominal opposition from independent green candidate Jim Leslie. McAuliffe has an appearance in support of State Del. Bob Brink next Tuesday in Arlington.

U.S. Senator Jim Webb was the headliner at the event for Favola at the home of Arlington County Board’s Jay Fisette on Tuesday, and his U.S. Senate colleague Mark Warner and former Governor Tim Kaine, a 2012 candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Webb, have been filling their appointment calendars with appearances on behalf of Democratic candidates all fall.

On the Republican side, Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor and former Governor George Allen, also planning a run for the U.S. Senate next year, and his wife have been headlining events for GOP candidates throughout the state.

The new chair of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was due at an Arlington fundraiser last night, and area Democratic U.S. Congressmen Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly are also booked solid for the next five weeks.

While the City of Falls Church ballot will be slim pickings this November – with the exception of a major referendum for City residents on when their local municipal elections should be held (in May, as per tradition, or November, when the voter turnout will be higher).

State Sen. Dick Saslaw will be on the ballot against Republican Robert Sarvis and independent green Katherine Ann Pettigrew. While Saslaw is new to Falls Church, his 35th District redrawn to encompass the City last spring, he is the State Senate’s majority leader and one of the most formidable politicians in the state. Also on the Falls Church ballot will be State Del. Jim Scott and Arlington Commonwealth Attorney candidate Theo Stamos, both running unopposed.

But the ballot in Fairfax County is huge, no matter what part of the county is being talked about.

There are State Senate races, including ones near Falls Church pitting incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock against Democratic challenger Pamela Danner in McLean’s 34th District, incumbent Democrat Chap Petersen against Republican challenger Gerarda Culipher in Faifax City’s 34th District, Democrat Adam Ebbin versus Republican Timothy McGhee for an open seat in the 30th District, and incumbent Democrat Janet Howell versus Patrick Forrest in the 32nd District.

There are races for the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, including incumbent Democrat Penny Gross versus Republican challenger David Feld in the Mason District, incumbent Democrat Linda Q. Smyth versus Republican challenger Chris Grisafe in the Providence District, and incumbent Democrat John Foust versus Republican challenger Dennis Husch in the Dranesville District. Then, incumbent Democrat Sharon Bulova is running county-wide against Republican challenger Mike (“Spike”) Williams and independents Christopher DeCarlo and Will Radle.

There are races for School Board, with incumbent Sandy Evans unopposed in the Mason District and Patty Reed unopposed in the Providence District, while incumbent Janie Strauss, backed by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) faces a challenge from Louis Epstein in the Dranesville District. County-wide at-large candidates including Lin-Dai Kendall, Sheree Brown-Kaplan, Lolita Mancheno-Smoak, Ryan McElveen, Ilryong Moon, Steven Stuban and Ted Velkoff. Backed by the FCDC are McElveen, Moon and Velkoff.

For county-wide sheriff, incumbent Democrat is being challenged by Republican Bill Cooper, and for Fairfax Commonwealth Attorney, Ray Morrogh is unopposed.

There are also five candidates for director of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, with the FCDC backing Johna Good Gagnon and George Lamb, while Thomas Cranmer, Peter Marchetti and John Peterson are also on the ballot.