Arlington, VA

Local Republican leaders thought that in Mark Kelly, they finally had a shot at getting a voice on the county board.

Mark was a well-spoken, likable family man who took measured, intellectual positions on the issues. He was a Republican who Democratic voters could potentially find common ground with, especially in an anti-incumbent year.

In the end, however, Arlington voters re-elected Democrat Chris Zimmerman by a wide margin.

It was especially striking that, despite loud grumbles of disapproval in certain quarters over perceived excess county spending, 57 percent of voters still chose to re-elect the number one supporter of the county’s proposed $200 million streetcar project.

“Once again the voters have affirmed their commitment to progressive government… even in a down year,” Zimmerman said.

Voters rewarded Democrats for their “commitment to quality services and strategic investments” as well as “a commitment to Arlington as a diverse and welcoming community,” he added.

Zimmerman said the extra couple of percentage points Kelly was able to pick up this year compared to past Republican candidates doesn’t signal any kind of a shift in the electorate.

“There’s obviously a segment of Arlington that agrees with his side, they do every time,” he said. “He’s obviously a lot more conservative than I am, and a lot more conservative than Arlington.”

Asked whether he would consider adopting any parts of Kelly’s platform — an open, web-based list of all county spending, for instance — Zimmerman demurred. He said the board would continue with its existing agenda, which has ensured a “strong tax base and a strong quality of life.”

“I don’t think Arlington has really been interested in the anti-government, extreme position that Republicans have been taking,” Zimmerman said. “The country may be closely divided, but Arlington has not been closely divided.”

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