Whipple sent a letter to 31st District Democrats this week belittling candidate Jaime Areizaga-Soto’s work as her “policy advisor” in 2010. Whipple, who has endorsed County Board member Barbara Favola in the contentious two-way primary battle, wrote that Jaime — a Stanford law school grad — “served as an intern” and “received only a small stipend.”
“I agreed to give him the title ‘Policy Advisor'” to make up for the low pay, Whipple wrote. “Jaime’s embellishments and exaggerations of his role during his time in Richmond have bothered me for some time, and I feel compelled to set the record straight.”
However, the Areizaga-Soto campaign is now pointing out that Whipple had previously praised his work in Richmond. In a Jan. 27, 2010 column for the Falls Church News-Press, Whipple wrote that she was “fortunate to have the extra help of Jaime Areizaga-Soto, Esq.”
“I coordinate the operations (communications, coordination, and position-making) of the majority Caucus in the Senate,” Whipple wrote. “Jaime supports and advises me on legislation and Caucus-related issues.”
State Sen. John Edwards, of Roanoke, was quoted yesterday as praising the Areizaga-Soto’s work in the state Senate.
“Jaime was an important asset to the Senate Democratic Caucus and to me over the last two legislative sessions,” Edwards said.
“I’m disappointed that Senator Whipple and my opponent have decided to mislead the people of the 31st District,” Areizaga-Soto said in a statement. “Senator Whipple praised my service for her in the Falls Church News Press, and I am proud of the work I did in Richmond. I want to move past this petty distraction and offer my vision for standing up to Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme agenda for Virginia.”
Democratic state Senate opponents Barbara Favola and Jaime Areizaga-Soto both have dueling negative “truth” web sites — The Truth About Barbara Favola and The Truth About Jaime Areizaga-Soto — so it’s only natural that corresponding Twitter accounts would be launched for each.
“My vote is up for sale to the highest bidder,” proclaims the Pay2PlayBabs account. “Special deals for Republicans and Developers!”
“Jaime said he was ‘lead attorney’ on ‘oil and gas pipelines’ projects. Now he says he did ‘no pipeline work.’ REALLY?” asked the ComeCleanJaime account.
ComeCleanJaime says it’s paid for by the Favola campaign, although we’ve yet to confirm its authenticity. The Areizaga-Soto campaign, meanwhile, denied that it’s behind Pay2PlayBabs.
“Our campaign does not condone the account @Pay2PlayBabs,” the campaign said on its official Twitter account. “We’ve got 20 days, let’s keep it focused on the issues.”
Following Areizaga-Soto’s criticism of Favola’s campaign contributors, and the recent release of new fundraising disclosures, Favola’s campaign went on the offensive today and attacked the source of the $160,000 in personal funds Areizaga-Soto loaned to his own campaign.
The Favola campaign issued the following press release this afternoon:
Jaime Areizaga-Soto and his supporters continue to attack Barbara Favola and her campaign contributors. As an elected official, Barbara has always been 100% transparent with her voting record, expenses, campaign contributions and expenditures. Today, the Favola campaign is asking Mr. Areizaga-Soto to meet that same standard.
“Jaime is self-funding his campaign with an unprecedented amount of personal money. He calls himself a ‘self-made man’ and we respect that.” said Adam Scott Favola’s Campaign Manager,” But we also think voters have a right to know how he made himself.”
According to his resume, Jaime Areizaga-Soto worked for some of the world’s largest corporate law firms and “major international corporations.” His resume also says he was “lead attorney” for development projects involving “gas-fired power plants, electricity turbines, toll-roads, oil and gas pipelines, electricity transmission lines and refineries.”
“The international developers and corporations, where Jaime made himself, prioritize profits over people and Barbara Favola has never done that.” Adam Scott.
Areizaga-Soto, meanwhile, responded by telling ARLnow.com that the money he loaned to his campaign was the result of hard work and diligent savings.
“My opponent has the advantage of $25,000 checks from developers she green-lit for multi-million dollar projects, as well as thousands of dollars from a funder that has given over $175,000 to right-wing republicans like Ken Cuccinelli,” he said in a brief emailed statement. “I’ve worked hard all my life and saved diligently. I’m grateful to have the ability and honored to make the investment in the opportunity to serve in the Virginia Senate.”
Quarterly finance reports are out for Arlington’s state Senate races.
In the heated 31st District contest between County Board member Barbara Favola and Army National Guard JAG officer Jaime Areizaga-Soto, Favola won the fundraising battle and conserved her cash.
Favola received $130,414.68 in contributions during the second quarter of 2011, compared to Areizaga-Soto’s $73,816.00. Areizaga-Soto also took out $145,000 in net debt during the period, but only ended up with $41,137.84 cash in hand thanks to a whopping $177,678.16 in spending. Favola spent $74,764.67 and ended with $112,909.01 cash in hand.
Favola may face renewed criticism of her willingness to accept money from developers and other interests with business before the County Board. All told, Favola accepted nearly $35,000 in donations from real estate, development and hotel companies.
Among the donations were $5,000 from JBG Companies executive Walter Coker, $2,500 from Monday Properties executive Timothy Helmig, $2,500 from IDI Group CEO Giuseppe Cecchi, $1,000 from The Bozzuto Group’s Thomas Bozzuto, and $1,000 from MRP Realty executive Robert Murphy. She also accepted donations from representatives of Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the B.F. Saul Company, McCaffrey Interests, and Cushman & Wakefield.
Additionally, Favola accepted a $2,500 donation from Advanced Towing owner John O’Neill, $1,000 from Red Top Cab and $500 from Enviro-Cab partner April Hess. All three firms are subject to special county regulations. Political supporters Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, Sen. Janet Howell, and Sen. Dick Saslaw collectively contributed
$32,000 $42,000 to Favola.
Areizaga-Soto, meanwhile, raised a significant portion of his money from friends and family in his native Puerto Rico. He raised more than $21,000 from donors in the American territory. Areizaga-Soto’s fellow attorneys were also generous. He raised $18,700 from donors identified as attorneys.
Areizaga-Soto’s largest individual donor was Carlos Del Toro, the CEO of a service disabled veteran-owned engineering and consulting firm in Stafford, Va. Del Toro donated a total of $5,250 to Areizaga-Soto.
The winner of the primary race between Favola and Areizaga-Soto will face Republican Caren Merrick in the fall. Merrick raised $136,031.25 during the quarter and has $153,499.90 cash on hand.
In the three-way Democratic primary race for the 30th District state Senate seat, Arlington County School Board member Libby Garvey captured the fundraising crown.
In February, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill allowing the practice, and it was later signed into law by Governor Bob McDonnell. Restaurants that choose to allow BYOW can charge a corkage fee, which would vary by establishment. No requirements on minimum or maximum prices for the fees were established in the law.
While some are calling this a move that will prevent consumers from paying inflated prices on alcohol in restaurants others, like chefs, believe it could cheapen the dining experience. Opponents of the practice say bringing wine to a restaurant is the equivalent of bringing outside food into a restaurant.
The District already allows patrons to bring their own wine to restaurants, and Maryland is expected to take up the measure sometime this year.
McGhee currently works as a database administrator for The Falls Church and as a legislative analyst for Capitol Hill Prayer Partners. His resume also includes technology and facilities work for the Cherrydale Baptist Church and stints as the manager of two D.C.-area Radio Shack stores.
“Tim is an American with the heart of a Thessalonian, the soul of a Roman, the mind of a Berean, and the strength of a Colossian,” his personal web site says.
McGhee, whose parents were missionaries, quotes liberally from the Bible on both his campaign and personal web sites. He also quotes the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and former presidents Reagan and Kennedy.
“This campaign is about spreading freedom and democracy in the 30th Senate District of Virginia,” McGhee writes. “As President Reagan said, ‘Now, I would appeal to you to invigorate democracy in your own neighborhoods.’ In these challenging times it would be most helpful to have people at the leadership table who are willing to put all options on the table — including prayer — and listen to each other.”
McGhee is expected to face the winner of a three-way Democratic primary between Del. Adam Ebbin, Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka and Arlington School Board Chair Libby Garvey in November.
Areizaga-Soto told the Blue Virginia web site that it is “not ethical” for Favola to accept tens of thousands of dollars from developers who have recently had business before the county. She “should resign from the board or return the money immediately,” Areizaga-Soto said.
Earlier this year, Favola told ARLnow.com that her vote “can’t be bought.”
“People are contributing to me because they respect me and have confidence in me,” she said. “Everything here is reported, there is nothing illegal about what I have received.”
Favola and Areizaga-Soto are running for the 31st District state Senate seat, which is being vacated by the retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.
It’s shaping up to be a very interesting off-year election in Arlington.
There are competitive Democratic primaries set for local state Senate and House of Delegates races. There’s a strong Republican contender looking to pull an upset in a formerly safe Democratic state Senate district. And there’s a national Green Party official challenging two County Board incumbents.
Local political watchers used to lopsided elections are enthralled at the prospect of some legitimate horse races. But is anybody else paying attention at this point? Let’s find out.
Former aide to Gov. Tim Kaine and current U.S. Small Business Administration assistant administrator Alfonso Lopez announced his candidacy for the Virginia House of Delegates at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.
Lopez is running for delegate in the 49th District — a seat currently held by Del. Adam Ebbin, who’s running for state Senate.
“I’m running for delegate today because the social safety net that my parents and so many others relied on is being destroyed by Republicans in Richmond,” Lopez said.
Lopez added that Virginia Republicans are “demonizing new immigrants and gays and lesbians.” He said he would bring “passion and practical experience” to the fight for a cleaner environment, better education and civil rights.
Also announcing last night was Obama administration appointee and former Army National Guard JAG Lt. Col. Jaime Areizaga-Soto, who’s running for state Senate in the 31st District.
“I’m running… to be a strong voice in the fight for progressive priorities against the backwards agenda of Gov. McDonnell and the Republicans in Richmond,” Areizaga-Soto said. He said that the Democrats who control the state Senate have not done enough to fight for their priorities, like protecting a woman’s right to choose.
“The voters of the 31st District will now decide who will be their Senator, instead of the other way around,” Areizaga-Soto said, a dig at the Democratic establishment’s support of his opponent, County Board member Barbara Favola.
Video courtesy Blue Virginia
The plan, however, does not change the serpentine borders of the 31st District, which will stretch from North Arlington to Loudoun County along the Potomac River. Likewise, the 30th District will remain unchanged from the first plan, which took away a bit of South Arlington territory from the district’s borders.
If approved by Gov. McDonnell as expected, the plan will place McLean millionaire Caren Merrick within the borders of the 31st District. Merrick has already announced her intention of running for the state Senate as a Republican.
Merrick would face the winner of a Democratic primary battle between Barbara Favola and Lt. Col. Jaime Areizaga-Soto. Democratic technology consultant Ben Tribbett is mulling a run as well, but has been waiting for the district’s borders to be finalized before making a decision.
Empty Courthouse Office Building for Sale — The big, white Verizon office building at 1320 N. Courthouse Road is actually vacant — and for sale. After nearly 30 years as a tenant, Verizon left its offices in the building. The owner is now seeking interested buyers or joint venture partners. [GlobeSt.com]
Westover to Hold Easter Egg Hunt — Children 9 years old and younger are invited to participate in Westover Village’s Easter egg hunt on Saturday. The event is being held from 10:00 a.m. to noon next to the Westover Library. Admission is free and yes, the Easter Bunny will be there. [VisitWestover.com]
State Senate Candidates Forum — Democratic candidates for the 30th District state Senate seat participated in their first public forum of the campaign. Del. Adam Ebbin, Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka and Arlington School Board member Libby Garvey answered questions about their stance on business issues and other policy matters. [Del Ray Patch]
Virgina Gov. Bob McDonnell vetoed a redistricting plan approved by the General Assembly, adding another layer of drama to the local races for state legislature.
McDonnell, a Republican, said the districts in the Democratic-controlled state Senate’s redistricting plan did not “preserve communities of interest, ensure compact districts and maintain generally equivalent populations in each district.” That, the governor said, is a violation of state and federal law.
This is the first time a Virginia governor has vetoed a redistricting plan since 1981.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, meanwhile, is accusing Gov. McDonnell of “playing politics” with his veto. He pledged to approve the exact same redistricting plan again while daring the governor to veto it.
The plan approved by Saslaw and the state Senate would have extended the Arlington-centric 31st District (above) into eastern Fairfax and Loudoun counties. McDonnell’s veto will throw the races for the 30th and 31st state Senate districts into a state of uncertainty — candidates will have no way of knowing the final boundaries of the district they’re running for.
A source tells us that Jaime Areizaga-Soto, who’s rumored as a potential Democratic candidate for the 31st District state Senate seat, announced to co-workers yesterday that he has decided to enter the race.
Areizaga-Soto is a senior attorney at the U.S. Agency for International Development, a Stanford Law grad, and a senior advisor to Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, the retiring occupant of the 31st District seat. An Arlington resident, Areizaga-Soto is active in the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia, the Arlington County Democratic Committee and the National Puerto Rican Coalition.
Areizaga-Soto is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the JAG Corps of the District of Columbia National Guard. According to this biography, he is fluent in Portuguese, French and Spanish.
If he is indeed running — we have not been able to independently confirm his candidacy — he will face County Board member Barbara Favola in this summer’s Democratic primary. A third potential candidate, political consultant and blogger Ben Tribbett, has also indicated that he may enter the race.
The 31st District was recently redrawn and, pending final approval, will include parts of North Arlington, eastern Fairfax County and eastern Loudoun County.
“Having stated in the early weeks of March that I would only make a decision after having an opportunity to actually see the newly drawn 31st Senate District lines, I have reluctantly decided, at this time, not to run for the open Senate seat,” Hope said in a statement. “I intend to seek re-election to the House. Running an effective campaign with the geographical diversity of the new district would take me away from spending quality time with my young family.”
“I’m humbled by the literally hundreds of voters living in the new 31st District who pledged support and encouraged me to run, but my first obligation must be to my family,” he continued. “Spending the time it would take to be victorious in a competitive primary and general election is too high a price for me to have to pay; however, I will not rule out a run for higher office at a future date.”
The redrawn 31st state Senate district, if approved by Gov. Bob McDonnell and the U.S. Department of Justice, will extend from North Arlington up into Fairfax and Loudoun counties, with the Potomac River as an eastern border. Currently, County Board member Barbara Favola is the only Democrat to announce her candidacy for the seat, which was vacated by the retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple.
Hope’s decision, however, clears a path for another potential candidate to enter the race. Political consultant and blogger Ben Tribbett, who has been flirting with the idea of running for public office, issued a statement today that stopped short of announcing himself as a candidate, but suggested that he’s at least seriously considering it.
In his first term in office, Patrick Hope has established an outstanding record of progressive activism. I was very much looking forward to being one of Patrick’s strongest supporters if he had decided to seek the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 31st Senate District. I look forward to an opportunity in the future to support Hope for higher office.
Now that Patrick Hope has decided not to seek this Senate nomination, a large number of his supporters and other Virginia Democrats have urged me to run. The voters in this Senate district deserve a strong progressive voice in the Virginia Senate, and they also deserve someone who will address local community concerns in all three counties within this district. If I decide to run, I am confident I will provide them with that voice.
The state House and Senate redistricting plans were unveiled last night and, unsurprisingly, the new district boundaries would give a boost to the majority party in each chamber. The Democratic-controlled state Senate plan would force two pairs of Republican senators to run against each other, while the Republican-controlled House plan moves the districts of three Democratic delegates, including that of House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong.
For Arlington, the state Senate plan will dilute Arlington’s influence in one district, the 31st, while the county picks up a third district, the 32nd. Arlington will lose some territory from the 30th district, which is subject to a three-way Democratic primary battle.
The 31st district — held by the retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple — currently consists of most of North Arlington, Falls Church and a slim part of eastern Fairfax County. The new, gerrymandered district will run from the Pentagon and Columbia Pike to the south, through the eastern half of North Arlington, through Great Falls, and up to some Loudoun County neighborhoods near the Potomac River.
Analysis on the Blue Virginia web site suggests that Arlington may retain the majority of the district’s population, but the sprawling district could present some logistical problems for County Board member Barbara Favola, who is running for the 31st district seat. Del. Patrick Hope is also considering a run for the Democratic 31st district nomination.
The 32nd district, currently a Fairfax and Loudoun County district represented by Democratic state Sen. Janet Howell, will shift into northwestern Arlington County. It will run through Tyson’s Corner, all the way west to Reston and part of Chantilly. Arlington neighborhoods like Westover, Yorktown and East Falls Church would have to compete with the interests of Fairfax County residents — which could get interesting if the topic of I-66 widening is ever brought up.