(Updated on 9/6/14) Bipartisanship or libertarianism. Those were the two primary messages from the half-dozen congressional candidates participating in Tuesday’s Arlington Civic Federation candidates forum.
Democrat Don Beyer, the odds-on favorite in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), stuck to the “proven, principled progressive” theme of his successful primary campaign, while also promising to work across the aisle.
“Anything I need to get done in my first term will likely have to be done with Republicans,” Beyer said, acknowledging the GOP’s majority in the House and potential future majority in the Senate. “This is a very important reason why I want to run… I want to go there as a strong Northern Virginia Democrat to work across party lines.”
Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor and U.S. ambassador under President Obama, also touted his business acumen as co-owner of his eponymous car dealership chain.
“We need to build a new American economy, based on the deepest possible investments in human capital,” he said, while listing a litany of his progressive positions: support for a national carbon tax, tighter gun controls focusing on criminals and the mentally ill, making “improvements” to Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), universal pre-kindergarten, marriage equality and immigration reform.
Republican Micah Edmond, a former Marine Corps officer, said bipartisanship and a balanced budget would be his first order of business in Congress.
“I see my campaign as a mission to make the American dream achievable again for all people,” he said. “If elected, my top priority will be to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to [enact] a 10-year economic plan that ends sequestration, allows us to pay down our debt responsibly, balances our budget, reforms our tax code, strengthens our entitlement system and allows us to… [make] direct investment into… education, infrastructure and national security.”
“I’m working hard to earn your vote,” Edmond told the packed crowd. A South Carolina native who served as a senior staffer for members of the House Armed Services Committee after leaving the Marine Corps, Edmond described himself as a “pragmatic problem solver.”
Jeffrey Carson, a Libertarian whose website sports an illustration of a star-spangled porcupine, was true to form as the evening’s prickly firebrand.
A former U.S. Army captain, Carson decried the nation’s “meddlesome, haphazard and dangerous interventionist foreign policy; our failed and unconstitutional drug war; NSA domestic spying; militarized police forces and the erosion of our civil liberties.” He accused Edmond of talking about lower taxes while proposing spending hikes rather than spending cuts, then accused Beyer of ignoring the problem of the national debt altogether.
Carson said he would “strip Congress of its power to overspend” by passing a business cycle-balanced budget amendment to stimulate the economy.
“We continue to allow our politicians to continue kicking the can down the road for another year, another election cycle, another generation,” he said. “Is it scary to face these problems head on? You bet.”
Gerard Blais, a candidate under the banner of the Independent Green party, espoused many of the libertarian ideals of Carson, with a pro-transit and social spending twist. He kept his remarks brief in comparison to his fellow candidates.
“I was inspired to run when, working as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. government, I noticed our flawed strategies continuing to fail abroad,” Blais said in his opening statement. “That’s why I would support an immediate pullout from all wars of aggression and choice abroad. I would also support drug legalization… a massive increase in public transportation, universal healthcare and an elimination of the federal income tax on the first $100,000 of income.”
Blais added a free college education and immigration reform to the list of policies he would pursue.
“As an IT worker, I enjoy a very bloated salary” because we’re not allowing enough skilled workers in, he said. “More immigrants will pay more U.S. taxes.”
Gwendolyn Beck, who’s running for Moran’s seat as an independent, said she wants to help facilitate compromise between the two parties.
“I think everyone is disappointed with the gridlock in Congress,” she said. “The Republicans and the Democrats are not talking to each other. I decided to run because I believe that we need to build badly needed coalitions in Congress.”
Beck, who lives near Rosslyn and describes herself as “fiscally responsible, socially inclusive,” said she is “very concerned about the waste of taxpayer money” and wants to fight for the rights of “seniors, children, women — everybody.”
Also participating in the candidates forum was Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Robert Sarvis. Democratic incumbent Mark Warner and Republican Ed Gillespie declined their invitations.
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Vying for a seat on the Arlington County Board, challenger Alan Howze and incumbent John Vihstadt made their cases for and against the big-ticket Columbia Pike streetcar and described other goals should they be elected November 4.
Speaking before the Arlington Civic Federation last night, Howze, a streetcar backer, repeated his call for a public referendum on the transportation option, calling it a huge economic opportunity for the county.
“When you look at the capacity and the economic development that will be driven by the streetcar versus the buses, it’s a smart investment to make,” he said. “We’re talking about passing on thousands of jobs in our community and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue that can go toward funding our schools and our social services.”
Howze suggested looking at renewable energy to power the streetcar. “If we can get into a long-term power purchasing agreement, it may actually not cost anything” beyond current energy rates, he said.
Vihstadt countered that the streetcar’s operating costs will have to be funded by bonds and tax dollars and that improved buses are a cheaper and more flexible option.
“The way to keep taxes under control in this county is not to spend so much,” he said. “People want to get from point A to point B in the fastest amount of time, in reasonable comfort and at a good price. The bus is the way to do that.”
Vihstadt said he is not a “single-issue candidate” and stated he would focus on creating affordable housing if elected.
“We want an Arlington that’s welcoming, that’s diverse and that’s affordable to everybody and it’s just really a question of how we’re going to do that — whether it’s through additional committed affordable units or additional housing grants or a special program for workforce housing, I am completely open to that,” he said.
Howze said he was also committed to making affordable housing a priority.
Vihstadt touted his successes thus far in bringing “balance and accountability” to the Board and reminded audience members that he won their vote in April. Vihstadt, a Republican who ran as an independent, won the special election in April to replace Chris Zimmerman (D) on the board. He captured 57 percent of the vote, to Democrat Howze’s 41 percent.
“Since I’ve been on the Board, we have lowered the property tax rate for the first time in nine years, freed up more bonding authority for more new schools and additions to address our capacity crisis, and we’ve directed the County Manager to examine staffing levels for our fire and police,” Vihstadt’s opening statement said.
In his opening statement, Howze criticized Vihstadt’s work on the board thus far.
“He put politics ahead of the needs of our community when he voted this summer against funding for school construction, Metro and parks in the Capital Improvement Plan, just to make a political point,” the statement said. “But political obstruction won’t build schools for our children or secure a more prosperous future.”
Also participating in the Civic Federation candidate forum were the three candidates running for two open Arlington School Board seats. Nancy Van Doren, who is running unopposed, addressed the capacity crowd at Virginia Hospital Center’s Hazel conference center, as did Nov. 4 opponents Barbara Kanninen and Audrey Clement.
Rep. Jim Moran is 69 years old and thrice-divorced, with the last split leaving him nearly broke. Moran reported no assets or liabilities in his financial disclosure report in 2010, in the middle of his divorce with businesswoman LuAnn Bennett, according to The Washington Post. He took home his congressional salary and a $10,000 teaching fee from George Mason University.
No longer as strapped for cash, the former stockbroker says he has no plans to retire from working when he leaves Congress, and will seek a high-paying job.
“It’s a little embarrassing that I don’t own my own home or even my own car,” Moran says. “I need to make a little money because I’ve got four grandkids and my daughter is getting married. I’d like to have something to leave to them.”
Moran can’t conduct job negotiations while he’s still in Congress and said he can’t speculate much on what his next move will be. But he has two criteria, in addition to being paid a comfortable salary: doing something “meaningful” and “purposeful,” and working with people “I like, respect and [who] share my values.”
Though he’ll be a septuagenarian just a handful of months after he leaves office, Moran doesn’t act or look the part of a doddering senior.
“I still have the physical and mental capacity to take on a new career,” he says, “so I think it’s time to do that.”
The two men seeking to replace Moran in the Nov. 4 general election, Democrat Don Beyer and Republican Micah Edmond, couldn’t be more different.
Beyer, 64, is the heavy favorite in the race and has Moran’s endorsement. He’s a former lieutenant governor, a former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and the owner of four Volvo dealerships that bear his name. During the heated Democratic primary, during which as many as 12 candidates competed, Beyer’s opponents criticized him for running ads for his car dealerships on local news stations, including Del. Patrick Hope (D-47). “Nobody should be allowed to buy an election,” he said.
Edmond, 40, is a Jewish and African-American Marine Corps veteran and former congressional staffer. He was chosen as the Republican candidate in a nominating convention. Described by Patrick Murray, the Republican challenger to Moran in the past two elections, as a candidate with “a lot of energy,” Edmond says Moran hasn’t tried nearly as hard in recent years.
“There seems to be no focus. It’s like he’s just there,” Edmond said in a phone interview with ARLnow.com. “That happens when people serve a long time… People just got really sick and tired of not having a real choice and a real race. Every two years, the Republican party was just throwing someone up there and it hasn’t been competitive.”
Edmond said he wants to focus on advocating for minorities and immigrants who he feels have been under-represented under Moran’s leadership.
“This district is now about 43 percent minority, and he doesn’t represent that diversity,” Edmond says. “Since I came [to Alexandria] in ’98, the minority community has just been shocked at how the level of influence and access to things has shrunk, and I don’t think Jim Moran has been a voice for that.”
Beyer’s lone criticism of Moran’s tenure was the remark Moran made in 2003 about the “Jewish community’s” push for the Iraq War. Outside of that gaffe, Beyer said he can only hope to fill Moran’s shoes.
“People talk a lot about what we’re going to miss,” Beyer told ARLnow.com from his home in Old Town Alexandria. “The defense contractor market is really going to miss his appropriations chairmanship. Animal rights advocates are going to miss him and federal employees are going to miss him.
“I don’t have any unrealistic expectations that I’m going to step into his shoes,” Beyer said. He said he’s trying to avoid “measuring the drapes” before the election, but if elected, “we have to be authentic, we have to be who we are. Forty years in business, as an ambassador and lieutenant governor have positioned me to hit the ground running better. We’re thinking about how do I be more than just another freshman? How can I have a greater influence?”
Although Beyer isn’t measuring the drapes — and Republicans certainly aren’t counting themselves out, considering it’s the first time they’re not facing an incumbent for more than two decades — most in the area consider the seat Beyer’s to lose.
That group includes Moran. In all of his campaigns, Moran never once called Beyer and asked for a campaign donation. Beyer was puzzled and bemused by that – he would have happily donated, and did anyway — while Moran said he didn’t call because “Don’s just such a nice guy.”
Moran said he thinks that quality will serve Beyer well if elected.
“I know he’s going to listen to all of the district, not just the first in line,” Moran said. “Don’s going to be terrific. I’m hoping he can raise enough money that he can move into the leadership.” (more…)
The controversies that began to pile up for Rep. Jim Moran in the late 1990s and 2000s galvanized his critics and spurred more organized efforts to unseat him.
All the while, the federal government continued to grow and as Moran’s district became more affluent and stayed as liberal as ever, the politician continued to get re-elected by a comfortable margin.
There was always a fight, however — until this year.
“It’s the first time in 35 years that I haven’t had an opponent in the primary or the general election,” Moran says. “Nobody had emerged wanting to challenge me. If someone was challenging me, I wasn’t going to let them suggest for a moment that I would back down from the competition.”
Few believe Moran would back down from a fight, even if it were in his best interest. They say that’s what makes him unique.
“He never seemed like a rank-and-file member,” said Don Beyer, a long-time constituent of Moran’s and now the Democratic candidate to replace him. “His personality is too big and his heart is too big. He’s incredibly bright, but he has incredible compassion, which can come off as anger.”
But Moran’s critics describe his outbursts as thuggery, bringing up that his wife reportedly told police that the former boxer grabbed her.
“He’s like a mafia don,” says Patrick Murray, a Republican who ran against Moran in 2010 and 2012. “He’s a big, scary angry guy and you don’t want to get on his bad side. That’s part of how he maintained his power here.”
The image of Moran the intimidator was reinforced in 2010, when a group of Tea Party protesters were heard shouting at his staff in his Capitol Hill office. It didn’t sit well with Moran, who former press secretary Anne Hughes says acted as a caring — and protective — father to his staff.
Moran confronted the protesters, according to a Politico story published at the time. His staffers got between him and the activists, who asked why he needed “bodyguards” to protect him. That prompted a memorable line from an unidentified staffer.
“We’re not protecting him from you,” the staffer told the unwelcome visitors, “we’re protecting you from him.”
Moran downplays the “former amateur boxer” reputation, though he says he did once fight an exhibition match with one-time world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.
“He toyed with me,” Moran says with a smile. “He let me punch him when he could have dropped me anytime he wanted.”
Moran’s father, James P. Moran, Sr., was a phenomenal athlete. He was an offensive guard at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., where he was an All-American before he continued his career with the Boston Redskins, before they moved to Washington.
Moran, Jr., also played football at Holy Cross on a dual athletic/academic scholarship. His father taught him to fight — “he drilled into our minds that only sissies need guns” — and to stick up for those less fortunate.
“I used to get in fights when I was young, but never to defend myself,” Moran says. “There were two or three cases where I saw a bunch of bullies harassing a young kid who couldn’t defend himself and I intervened.”
In his adult life, Moran said he isn’t thrilled with being labeled a fighter outside of the political arena.
“I think most of it is exaggerated,” he says. (more…)
(Updated at 10:55 a.m.) Alan Howze, the Democratic candidate for the Arlington County Board, has announced a new platform to improve the planned Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar.
Howze reiterated his support for the half-billion-dollar system that is slated to run from the Skyline area of Fairfax County to Crystal City to Alexandria. He also reiterated his support for a public referendum on the streetcar — which needs General Assembly approval to be placed on the ballot — and called the project a “once-in-a-generation investment.”
“The streetcar has been used as a wedge issue by those who seek political gain by dividing our community,” Howze said in a press release. “Rather than use the streetcar to score political points, let’s focus on responding to community questions and using innovation to make the planned streetcar even better.”
After “talking to thousands of Arlington residents at their doors,” Howze created five proposals to improve the streetcar system. The proposals are:
- “Speed and accountability in government matters. Timely construction should be a key contract requirement. This will minimize disruption, protect taxpayers, and accelerate the benefits from the streetcar.”
- “Create a small business contingency plan to support small businesses affected by streetcar construction.”
- “Create a business and residents advisory council to ensure community issues that arise during construction are dealt with in a timely manner.”
- “Examine the feasibility of using streetcars that can run without wires for sections of the streetcar line to reduce the use of overhead wires.”
- “Secure 100% renewable energy power supply for the streetcar. This would ensure that the streetcar is a zero emissions system.”
County Board member John Vihstadt is Howze’s opponent in the November general election. It’s a rematch of their April primary in which Vihstadt, a Republican-endorsed independent, won by a 57-41 percent margin. In response to Howze’s statement, Vihstadt responded in a press release, saying “Let’s be careful about who is calling whom divisive.”
“We have a strong contingent of voters who oppose streetcars, and are ready to vote in November,” said Vihstadt, who voted, along with County Board member Libby Garvey against the county’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan last month because it included the streetcar.
“I’m glad to learn that my opponent is hearing the same concerns that I am in door-knocking and listening to constituents up and down Columbia Pike, along Route 1 and across the County,” Vihstadt said, “including deep anxiety about construction time and cost, disruption to small businesses, commuters and residents alike, unsightly and potentially unsafe overhead wires, environmental and energy concerns and more. Unlike my opponent, I believe that the way to deal most effectively with these concerns is not to build the streetcar in the first place!”
Howze compared the debate over the streetcar to the 1960s debate over building Metro’s Orange Line underground instead of in the median of I-66, saying “for 50 years, transit opponents have used the call for more buses to attempt to block the expansion of rail transit.”
Vihstadt fired back to that claim, referencing the vote Arlington residents took to approve building the Metro along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
“My opponent’s references to Metro are inaccurate,” he said. “I support and take Metro every day. The fact is that Metro was put to a vote in the late 1960s and Arlingtonians embraced it. They have voted to continue to support Metro in bond votes nearly every two years since. Metro ties our entire region together across Maryland, the District and Virginia. None of this is — or ever will be — true of a streetcar.”
Rep. James P. Moran is quiet, speaking barely over a whisper, tapping his fingers on a conference room table.
It’s a side of Moran that many of his constituents haven’t seen since he was first elected to public office 35 years ago, as a city councilman in Alexandria.
The public image of the now 69-year-old congressman is that of a brash, fiery fighter, so much so that he was given a pair of boxing gloves by Arlington County Democratic Committee President Kip Malinosky at a dinner held in Moran’s honor in June.
The public image is neither incorrect nor complete. Moran has a legendary temper and passion, and he’s built a reputation of speaking “off the cuff” at public events, Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette says.
“He doesn’t read prepared statements,” according to Fisette. “He talks too long sometimes, but it’s authentic.”
That wasn’t always the case. Moran says he initially ran for office out of a fear of public speaking. He was unbearably shy, but wanted to help his community, so he gave it a shot.
“I dreaded speaking in public,” Moran told ARLnow.com, sitting in a conference room at Rosslyn’s ÛberOffices. “I fainted the first two times I did it.”
In one-on-one interactions, Moran is still the quiet type. “He’s a lot more soft-spoken than people think,” his former press secretary, Anne Hughes, says. He’s deliberate in conversation, thoughtful regarding each answer and, after he announced earlier this year that he wouldn’t seek re-election, reflective of his soon-to-be-ending time in politics.
Moran was elected in 1990, unseating Rep. Stan Parris. Parris had served 12 years in the seat — from 1973-1974 and 1981-1990 — and was viewed as a significant favorite, but the district, and the country, was changing.
Parris, who died in 2010, had run for governor in 1989 and lost in the Republican primary, which Don Beyer — elected lieutenant governor that year — said “weakened” his campaign. Beyer is the Democrat running for Moran’s seat after beating out a crowded primary field in June.
Moran had already established a reputation as a progressive liberal — as mayor, he made sure that Alexandria would not discriminate against gays and lesbians in hiring for city positions — and Parris pounced on his opposition to the Gulf War, comparing Moran to Saddam Hussein.
When a reporter approached Moran on the beach after Parris made his comment, Moran said “that fatuous jerk… I’d like to break his nose.”
“He really wasn’t that bad of a guy,” Moran says today, “but he said a number of things that I thought were repulsive. I knew his voting record, which was terrible as far as I was concerned. I probably couldn’t have beaten him if I had known him because he wasn’t such a bad guy, but I didn’t know him.”
Moran says he woke up at 4:00 a.m. every day and drove to the Prince William County Park & Ride. At the time, commuters would drive to the lot and sleep in their cars before the bus arrived, to ensure a parking spot. The mayor of Alexandria would knock on their car windows and introduce himself.
“Normally I’d get the single-digit salute,” he says. So he continued to do it for weeks. “Eventually, they gave me the access to tell them what I was about.”
Moran also pressed Parris on his conservative views on abortion, a hot-button issue of the moment, even more so than it is today, Beyer says.
“It was the wedge issue in the campaign,” Beyer says. “Jim saw that opportunity and he seized on it.”
Moran won by a 7.1 percent margin over Parris. The district was re-drawn after the 1990 U.S. Census to make it more Democratic, and the margin will stand as the closest general congressional election he ever had.
Richard “Rip” Sullivan (D) is the newest member of the state General Assembly after soundly defeating Republican Dave Foster in tonight’s special election.
Sullivan won 62.21 percent of the vote, not counting provisional ballots, and captured 3,934 of 6,277 votes cast in Arlington. Sullivan will replace Del. Bob Brink, who resigned in June, representing the easternmost parts of Arlington and the McLean area of Fairfax County.
The election was scheduled for tonight by House of Delegates Speaker William Howell, a move Sullivan panned during his campaign — and did again in his victory speech at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon — as an attempt to get low voter turnout in the Democratic-leaning district. Brink, who was there to congratulate Sullivan, said he was “surprised” at Howell’s decision.
“Rip showed you can’t game the system,” Brink told ARLnow.com. “I think he’s going to do a tremendous job. He’s shown he is a thoughtful legislator who can get things done. I think he’s going to be great.”
Sullivan credited his team for leading a successful campaign — two campaigns within eight weeks, he pointed out, after winning the Democratic “firehouse” primary in early July — and the district’s voters for supporting him despite the unusual election timing. According to Arlington General Registrar Linda Lindberg, it’s the first general election Arlington has had in August in at least 20 years, and she said she couldn’t find record of any August election before that.
During the campaigns, Sullivan focused primarily on social issues, such as women’s reproductive rights, and on expanding Medicaid. Foster’s campaign hinged largely on his opposition to the streetcar, while hoping his education experience — he was a two-time chair of the Arlington School Board and the head of the Virginia Board of Education under former Gov. Bob McDonnell — would garner some swing votes.
“I had great faith and confidence in the voters of the 48th District,” Sullivan said. “I knew they would care about more than one issue. I wanted to talk about all of the issues and I think that resonated with voters. They knew what they were getting with me.”
Brink retired after being appointed Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services for Virginia. Sullivan said Brink, known in Richmond as a dealmaker, has offered guidance.
“Bob was highly regarded for his intellect and demeanor,” Sullivan said. “I expect to rely on him and consult him regularly. I hope to follow in his footsteps as someone people can trust and work with.”
Sullivan is an attorney and a partner at Reed Smith in Washington, D.C., and serves as an adjunct professor at the George Mason University law school. He lives in McLean with his wife, Beth, and the two have four children.
The election is between Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican Dave Foster, two attorneys who have had to throw together campaigns in less than two months after Brink announced his resignation on June 27.
According to Arlington General Registrar Linda Lindberg, her office has already received about 1,000 ballots, which is more than the total number of absentee ballots cast in the county for the June Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District seat. Lindberg theorized that the numbers are inflated because so many people will be out of town tomorrow, but was still surprised at the volume.
“What’s really significant is when you consider the June primary was the entire County, but this election is only 13 precincts,” Lindberg told ARLnow.com in an email today. “We expected our numbers to be comparable to the primary for the precincts involved, not to necessarily exceed them. So in that respect, yes, absentee turnout has exceeded expectations… The numbers are clearly a reflection of the work the campaigns have done to get out the vote.”
Each candidate took time away from campaigning this afternoon to speak with ARLnow.com, and both said they felt good about their chances tomorrow.
“We have overcome, I think, quite well what I have viewed as a trap election,” Sullivan said, referring to House of Delegates Speaker William Howell’s decision to hold the election so soon after the seat was vacated. “[Howell] opted to set it on this fast track, I think knowing a lot of people would be out of town on vacation or taking their kids to college… I think we’ve done a nice job in putting a full-scale professional campaign into six short weeks, and we feel real good about our chances.”
Sullivan said voters told him their priorities in the election were expanding Medicaid in the state and the state’s economic circumstances, particularly after Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia is facing a $2.4 billion shortfall in the budget next year.
“It’s certainly a bigger shortfall than anyone would want,” Sullivan said. “I was talking at the debate (Aug. 5) about how Virginia, and Northern Virginia particularly, needs to focus like a laser on diversifying our economy and weaning off a dependence on federal dollars.”
Foster said the voters he’s spoken to have told him they oppose the Columbia Pike streetcar. He said if he’s elected, he will push for a referendum and explore funneling $160 million-plus in potential state transportation funding away from the streetcar. He also said the voters “know me” from his former tenure on the Arlington School Board.
“The voters appreciate my record of service on education issues in particular,” Foster said. “Arlingtonians know me not simply as a Republican, but as someone who knows how to work on a bipartisan, pragmatic basis to get things done.”
Foster noted that Sullivan’s campaign received a $35,000 donation from the Democratic Party of Virginia last week, a sign, he said, that they believe Republicans have a chance to win the Democrat-leaning district. In all, Sullivan has raised more than $165,000, according to the latest data from the State Board of Elections. Foster has raised just over $100,000.
“We’re definitely in the hunt,” Foster said. “We think we have him on the ropes.”
Polling places will open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow. The State Board of Elections allows you to double-check your polling place online. The 48th District runs along the Potomac River from Crystal City to Rosslyn and Clarendon and includes the McLean area of Fairfax County.
Here is Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan’s unedited response:
The election on August 19th is not just about the candidates. It’s about the values of this District’s voters and our shared vision of a more welcoming, innovative, forward-looking society.
I’m running to be your next Delegate because I share the core values of 48th District voters — opportunity, inclusiveness, and equality. I’m running because I refuse to sit back as 400,000 Virginians are denied healthcare services. I’m running so that our children inherit a clean environment. I’m running because voters of the 48th district deserve a Delegate who will passionately fight for their values, not minimize the importance of those values for the sake of winning an election.
The Washington Post endorsed my candidacy last week, noting that I’ve taken “forthright stances” and that “voters would know what they are getting with Mr. Sullivan.” Throughout this campaign, I’ve made clear where I stand and how I will vote on all the issues of importance to the 48th District.
- On Medicaid, I unequivocally support expansion immediately.
- On gun control reform, I support reinstating the one-gun-a-month law, universal background checks, limits to high capacity magazines, banning assault weapons, and closing the gun show loophole.
- On women’s reproductive health, I believe those decisions should be between a woman and her doctor. I will fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.
- On LGBT issues, I fully support marriage equality and ending workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- On the environment, I’ve shown how we can create a 21st century economy, with Virginia as a leader in creating jobs through clean technology and energy innovation.
In telling voters who I am, I have not tried to reposition myself or suggest that this is a single-issue election, because voters in the 48th District should base their vote on the many issues that will come before the General Assembly.
This is in stark contrast to my Republican opponent, Dave Foster, who is on the wrong side of so many issues. After interviewing him, the Washington Post concluded that Mr. Foster is a “shape-shifter,” saying “he has scrambled to rebrand himself… by taking vague, wait-and-see stands on several key issues.” The Editorial Board went on to highlight that his campaign strategy is “designed to mainly shift attention away from tough votes.”
And Mr. Foster acknowledges as much. At our most recent debate, Mr. Foster – again – refused to reveal to voters what his positions are on choice, gun control, marriage equality, or climate change. He sheepishly concluded to the audience that “I don’t talk about gun control and abortion… as I campaign for this because I know one has to establish priorities.”
Those are issues Dave will have to vote on in Richmond, and they are priorities to the voters. Voters are entitled to know where he stands before they cast their vote. (more…)
Here is Republican Dave Foster’s unedited response:
I have demonstrated as a two-term chairman of the Arlington School Board and President of the state board of education that my problem-solving, consensus-building style gets results for our citizens. We need effective bipartisan representation in Richmond to address the Arlington streetcar, Medicaid, schools, the state’s economy, and the many other pressing issues we face. I will be that voice for the citizens of the 48th District.
I have been married for 33 years to Martha Tyahla Foster, of McLean. Our two children attended Arlington and Fairfax public schools and graduated from Virginia universities. I was President of the Arlington County Civic Federation and involved in numerous other community nonprofits, advisory committees, and PTA’s. It is my concern for the welfare of our community that led me to seek the office of Arlington School Board and the same concern motivates me to seek the office of House of Delegates.
I am concerned, as you are, about having a balanced, rational approach to transportation issues in our area. Unlike my opponent, I oppose the Arlington Streetcar proposal because it is neither practical nor affordable and will consume up to $164 million in state transportation funds that could be better used elsewhere. Roads and Metro, schools and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than this ill-considered project, which will not only require an initial investment of over $500 million but also an annual operating subsidy of several million dollars. If elected, I will introduce legislation to create a public referendum on the streetcar proposal so that taxpayers can have a voice in this decision just as they do on local bond proposals.
As a two-term Chairman of the Arlington School Board and former President of the Virginia Board of Education, I have worked for lower class sizes, improved school safety, enhanced foreign language offerings (Mandarin and Arabic), Virginia’s “No Child Left Behind” waiver, improved Standards of Learning (SOLs), and many other shared priorities. I would like to continue to my work to strengthen our public schools as your Delegate in Richmond. We must protect the cost-of-competing adjustment to state funding that recognizes the higher cost of providing high-quality education in Northern Virginia. We should also give our school boards increased local control over public school calendars and budgets. I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.
We must once again make Virginia the best place to start, expand, or relocate a business. I will protect our right to work law and oppose mandatory project agreements of the kind that almost derailed the Silver Line Metrorail. I will also resist the imposition of costly and unwarranted state regulatory mandates that duplicate federal mandates. Building upon the transportation package passed by the last General Assembly, with a focus on projects that reduce congestion, improve safety, and spur economic development, is also a priority.
Because I am the most experienced and effective candidate, I ask for your vote on August 19th.
(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Nominees for the 48th district House of Delegates seat, Republican Dave Foster and Democrat Rip Sullivan, plan to debate at George Mason University’s Arlington campus Aug. 11 prior to the special election Aug. 19.
“I am pleased that even in the short time afforded by this special election, we will be able to discuss the issues,” Foster said in a press release yesterday.
Sullivan, a former Fairfax Transportation Advisory Commission member and Fairfax County resident and partner at Reed Smith law firm, called for a debate soon after he defeated six other candidates in the Democratic caucus on Sunday.
“I’m an issues-oriented guy, which is why I’ve served on boards and commissions dealing with housing, education, transportation, and legal policy over the last 25 years,” Sullivan said in a press release. “I look forward to a substantive debate where we can talk about the issues we’ll face in Richmond.”
Sullivan opposes widening I-66 inside the beltway and will try to “incentivize use of public transportation and expand mass-transit opportunities” if elected, according to his website. He supports Medicaid expansion in Virginia, increased gun control and reproductive health rights for women.
Foster is opposed to the Columbia Pike streetcar, and if elected, would spearhead a public referendum to end the project that he called “impractical and unaffordable.” Foster also “pledged to work for a solution to the Medicaid expansion controversy that has roiled Richmond this year,” according to his website. As a former Arlington School Board member, he said he supports “adequate funding and local decision making” for Arlington schools. Sullivan said on his website that he wants to “tackle the issues of overcrowding and larger class sizes currently facing Arlington.”
After the sudden resignation of Del. Bob Brink (D-48), who retired last month to serve as Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services, Sullivan received more votes than six other Democratic nominees in the “firehouse” primary. Foster was the only Republican to run for the open seat.
In addition to the Arlington debate, another debate between Foster and Sullivan is scheduled to take place at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce on the morning of Aug. 5.
Seven candidates were on the ballot for the hastily-scheduled “firehouse” primary. Sullivan was listed as voters’ first choice for the 48th District seat on 905 of the 2,126 ballots cast on Sunday at two locations: Yorktown and McLean High Schools. Voters were asked to rank their preference of candidate and, during the instant runoff process, the candidates with the lowest number of votes were eliminated one-by-one — and their votes reassigned — until one candidate received a majority of votes.
In the fifth round of ballot counts, Sullivan secured the nomination with 1,111 votes, ahead of Paul Holland’s 523 and Andrew Schneider’s 444 votes. In the first ballots cast, David Boling received 209 votes, Atima Omara-Alwala received 159, Yasmine Taeb received 77 and Jackie Wilson received 58.
Brink officially retired from the House of Delegates on June 30 to become Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services. Brink had served as delegate for 17 years, and most recently was re-elected last fall after running unopposed. House of Delegates Speaker William Howell announced the special election would be held Aug. 19, making the election filing deadline today at 5:00 p.m.
“Speaker Howell threw all he had at us, but Arlington and Fairfax Democrats demonstrated their firm commitment to the democratic process, which is why turnout far exceeded expectations,” Sullivan said in a press release. “Republicans in the House of Delegates continue to refuse to expand health care to hundreds of thousands of Virginias, refuse to accept the reality behind climate science, and continue impose limits on women’s reproductive health. These are not my values, and these are not the values of the 48th district.”
Sullivan, a Fairfax County resident, will be joined on the ballot by former Arlington School Board Chairman Dave Foster, who was announced as the 48th District Republicans’ nominee hours before the Democratic caucus’ votes were counted. Before Sunday afternoon, no Republican had publicly expressed interest in running for the open seat in the Democrat-heavy district.
Foster, an Arlington native who has also served as the President of the Virginia Board of Education, said if elected he plans to introduce legislation to bring a referendum on the Columbia Pike streetcar to the General Assembly, calling the streetcar “impractical and unaffordable.”
“Roads and Metro, schools, and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than a half-billion dollar trolley,” Foster said in a press release. He added he would fight for more local control over school decisions. “I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.”
(Updated at 8:00 p.m.) State officials are wasting no time in scheduling a special election to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48).
Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William Howell, a Republican, signed a writ today ordering a special election be held on Tuesday, Aug. 19. The filing deadline for candidates is the end of the day on Monday, July 7.
Local Democrats scrambled to schedule a primary election to meet the filing deadline. Democrats will hold a “special firehouse primary” at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 6.
Already, ARLnow.com has received announcements from two Democrats seeking to replace Brink, who’s leaving the legislature to join Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration. Rip Sullivan, David Boling and Paul Holland sent out press releases today, announcing their candidacy.
According to the Democratic blog Blue Virginia, other potential candidates include Andrew Schneider, Peter Fallon, Atima Amara and Steve Baker.
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lost a primary challenge last night to David Brat, a professor at Randolph-Macon College.
The result stunned the political world, as did Brat’s convincing margin of victory: 56 to 44 percent.
The D.C. punditocracy, trying to comprehend Cantor’s unprecedented loss, floated a number of theories: conservative voters were upset with Cantor about possible immigration reform, talk radio hosts endorsed Brat, Brat captured the anti-establishment Tea Party vote, Democrats voted in the open primary to spite Cantor, etc.
It has also been suggested that Cantor spent too much time in D.C. and not enough time in his Richmond-area district. Cantor maintains a condominium in Arlington, near Pentagon City, public records show.
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), speaking to ARLnow.com outside of Don Beyer’s victory party in Alexandria, said he had just seen Cantor on the House floor earlier that day and was “shocked” that he was voted out of office, presumably by the same conservative voters that Cantor had tried so hard to court over the years.
“Compared to this guy Brat, Eric was so much more competent, informed, and showed leadership in his party,” Moran said. “I disagree with his positions but between the two of them he was by far the more accomplished, capable statesman.”
Moran marveled at the irony that someone regarded as a “young gun” conservative leader was apparently considered not conservative enough by Republican voters.
“He was very conservative,” Moran said. “If you’re conservative, he’s the guy you should have voted for, not some guy to doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Eric is very much anti-immigration… I was bitterly opposed to his position. But the idea of voting against him because he wasn’t sufficiently anti-immigration is nonsense.”
In a press release Wednesday morning, the Democratic polling group Public Policy Polling claimed voters in Cantor’s district actually support immigration reform, but were unhappy with Cantor and with the GOP leadership in the House.
“Both Cantor and the GOP House leadership are deeply unpopular, even with Republican voters, and that likely led to his loss,” Public Policy Polling concluded, based on a poll conducted Tuesday night.
“I think the fringe of the Republican Party is taking over the party,” Moran said. “The Republican Party has lost control, it has a tiger by the tail and it can’t rein it in. It’s bought in to the Fox News and the hate radio stuff and now it’s out of control. You need some government, and yet these people want no government. ”
Moran said redistricting in Virginia might have hurt Cantor.
“When you gerrymander a district so you only put conservatives in there, you don’t get a balanced district and this is what you get,” he said. “I think a more moderate district, it turns out, probably would have been in his favor. But Eric didn’t want a moderate district, he wanted as much concentration of conservatives as possible, and this is what he wound up with.”
Despite the fact that the news about Cantor was a couple of hours old, Moran, who is retiring after 12 terms in the House, was still battling disbelief.
“Wow, isn’t that something,” he reflected.
(Updated at 10:00 p.m.) By a wide margin, former Virginia lieutenant governor Don Beyer has captured the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Jim Moran in Congress.
With all precincts reporting in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, Beyer had 46 percent of the vote, compared to 18 and 14 percent respectively for runners up Del. Patrick Hope and state Sen. Adam Ebbin.
Rounding out the seven active candidates in the race, Alexandria mayor Bill Euille had 8 percent of the vote, lawyer and pundit Mark Levine had 7 percent, former Northern Virginia Urban League president Lavern Chatman had 5 percent, and Virginia Tech professor Derek Hyra had 1 percent.
“Tonight is the culmination of the hard work, the heartfelt values, and the shared ideas of many, many, many good people,” Beyer, 63, said in a statement. “I am honored and humbled to be your standard bearer.. Now we turn our attention to November… We must carry the Virginia ideals of integrity, community, progress, and compassion forward to all voters.”
Just past 7:40 p.m., via Twitter, Hope conceded the race.
“I just called @DonBeyerVA to congratulate him on his victory tonight,” Hope said. “Congratulations and I look forward to voting for him in November.”
Other candidates, including Ebbin and Levine, soon followed suit. Moran, who’s retiring after 12 terms, released a statement congratulating Beyer on his victory.
“Don ran a tremendous campaign,” Moran said. “He distinguished himself with a deep knowledge of foreign policy, a steadfast commitment to addressing global climate change, support for common sense gun laws, and consistently strong progressive values. He’s the leader Northern Virginia needs in Congress. I’ll be proud to be his constituent.”
Moran and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe were among the Democratic officials to attend Beyer’s victory party at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation on the Old Town Alexandria waterfront. Also spotted at the party was former candidate Bruce Shuttleworth and his family, Arlington County Board candidate Alan Howze and Del. Alfonso Lopez.
Hope, the only Arlington-based candidate in the race, performed best in his home county. Hope had 33 percent of the vote in Arlington compared to Beyer’s 39 percent.
Hope, at his election party at the Greene Turtle in Ballston, told dozens of his yellow-shirt-clad supporters that he was proud of the campaign he ran.
“None of us could keep up with Don Beyer,” he said. “A lot of Virginia Democrats see Don Beyer the way national Democrats see Al Gore. They wonder what would have been if the voters had been smart enough to vote for him for governor.”
Turnout was relatively light in Arlington. Just after polls closed, Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg said her earlier estimate of 10-12 percent voter turnout would likely prove “pretty close.” With 14,411 votes cast in Arlington, turnout was just above 10 percent.
While some north Arlington precincts reported double-digit turnout, Lindberg suggested that south Arlington turnout was comparatively lower. One Crystal City precinct reported 2-3 percent turnout, she said.
Beyer, who owns an eponymous chain of car dealerships, has long been considered a favorite in the race. He held an advantage in name recognition and led the crowded field of Democratic hopefuls in fundraising. This morning, he was featured in a New York Times article that focused on his allegiance to President Obama.
After serving as a regional finance chairman for Obama’s 2008 campaign, Beyer was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He served from 2009-2013.
In his victory declaration, Beyer channeled the president’s 2008-era slogans of hope and change, saying: “The last few weeks, I have taken to quoting St. Augustine of Hippo, who said, ‘Hope has two beautiful daughters, Anger and Courage. Anger about the way things are. And Courage to change them.’”