Arlington County Democrats were joined by Sen. Mark Warner at their annual Labor Day Chili Cook-off in Lyon Park on Monday.
Between chatting with local Democratic elected officials and activists, Virginia’s senior U.S. senator cheered on contestants during the event’s popular no-hands-allowed pie eating contest. Finishing first in the contest was Ben Tribbett, of the Not Larry Sabato blog.
The main attraction, of course, was the chili contest. A dozen and a half entries competed for the votes of a panel of judges — the “electoral college” — and for the votes of all attendees — the “popular vote.”
Del. Patrick Hope captured top honors from the popular vote, with attorney Betsey Wildhack and School Board member Noah Simon in second and third respectively. Rep. Jim Moran’s “Animal Lovers Chili,” meanwhile, won the electoral college vote.
Among other attendees at the cookout were all five Arlington County Board members, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos, state Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Bob Brink and Del. Alfonso Lopez, whose son won the cupcake decorating contest.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called the Orange Line corridor in Arlington “the core of startups in Washington” during a Q&A with entrepreneurs in Rosslyn today (Thursday).
Warner spoke to several dozen attendees at ÜberOffices (1400 Key Blvd) as part of “Startup Across America” Day, focusing on ways to boost the local startup economy, which has been a driver of job growth in the area.
Warner suggested the local and state governments provide discounts on rent and incentives to preserve the startup community in Arlington. He also spoke against over-regulation of crowdfunding and in favor of additional funding for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.
During the wide-ranging talk, Warner addressed several other issues facing entrepreneurs and young people — a group that is overlapping more and more in Arlington — such as Bitcoin, entitlement reform and the national debt.
“You guys are up a creek,” Warner said. The national debt of “$17 trillion is a big number, even for the United States.”
Members of the audience asked questions about the Keystone XL pipeline and how Big Data has changed political campaigns. Warner, who was a co-founder of Nextel and a founder of Columbia Capital, a venture capitalist firm in Alexandria, said the young, tech-savvy generation has better answers to the new technology questions, even from a policy standpoint, than he or his colleagues in Congress do.
“This is the future of the economy,” Warner said. “[Entrepreneurs] are the future employers of the region. I can learn from them as much as they can learn from me.”
The issue Warner focuses most on in the Senate is the budget, and when one of the audience members asked him about the budget, he spread his arms wide, smiled, and said, “thank you for asking me that question.” He then delved in to how the U.S. accumulated its deficit, citing Bush-era tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan funded on credit, additional funds into entitlements and longer life expectancy.
“Medicare and Social Security are great programs,” Warner said, “but the math doesn’t work anymore.”
Warner, a moderate Democrat, had a few nuggets of advice for the crowd on how they can personally try improve national politics.
“If you’re frustrated with politics, don’t vote for anyone who signs one of those stupid pledges,” he said, acknowledging both parties. “Turn off Fox News and MSNBC, they both lie.”
Warner spoke in favor of reforming congressional redistricting by making it a process independent of politics. Politically driven redistricting is at least partially responsible for the current hyperpartisan environment on Capitol Hill, he said.
Warner also encouraged the audience to vote across the aisle on issues they believe in — voting for Republicans who aren’t opposed to raising taxes and Democrats who are open to entitlement reform.
Closing the discussion, Warner encouraged the crowd of mostly 20- and 30-somethings to contribute to the Commonwealth by building successful businesses here.
“Make a whole lot of money and stay in Virginia,” he said, smiling. “Don’t even think about moving to D.C.”
McAuliffe and Warner will “will launch McAuliffe’s Arlington campaign and roll out his plan to strengthen Virginia’s K-12 education systems in order to prepare Virginia’s students and workforce for the jobs of tomorrow and grow the Commonwealth’s economy,” according to a media advisory.
The event will take place at George Mason University’s campus in Virginia Square at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday, May 9.
McAuliffe fell to 10 points behind Republican Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in a Washington Post poll published over the weekend.
Following word last week that ports outside of Virginia were being considered for the commissioning, the delegation wrote a letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, saying that it would a “mistake” to commission the Arlington anywhere other than Commonwealth.
“We applaud the Navy’s responsiveness and decision to commission the USS Arlington in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” the delegation said in a statement today. “Commissioning the ship in Virginia is the appropriate way to honor the bravery and sacrifice of the thousands of local police officers, fire fighters, Pentagon employees, emergency first responders and all who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.”
The delegation includes Rep. Jim Moran, Sen. Jim Webb, Sen. Mark Warner and other Virginia lawmakers.