Two fellow Democrats are taking state Senate candidate Jaime Areizaga-Soto to task for campaign mailers sharply critical of his opponent, County Board member Barbara Favola.
The latest mailer shows Favola between Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli with the headline “These politicians have a lot in common” — a reference to the fact that all three have accepted donations from local real estate developer, philanthropist and Republican political donor Preston Caruthers. (Favolva accepted a $5,000 donation from Caruthers.)
“I’m disappointed that my friend Jaime Areizaga-Soto has been persuaded that victory in the primary can be achieved through slick negative campaign mailings,” Del. Bob Brink said in a statement said in a statement last night.
Brink, who intended to stay neutral in the race, said he’s now endorsing Favola because of Areizaga-Soto’s negative mailers.
“Voters in our region have shown repeatedly that they want their public officials to talk about the issues that touch their daily lives, and that they have little tolerance for Karl Rove-style mudslinging,” he said. “Any candidate who doesn’t understand that is unqualified to represent us.”
Technology consultant and Not Larry Sabato blogger Ben Tribbett, who was once considering a run in the 31st District state Senate race, took particular exception with Areizaga-Soto’s accusation that Favola “sold her vote” to developers.
“We have so many voters in Arlington who are national political people, they’re too savvy to be misled like that,” Tribbett said. “I agree with Jaime, I don’t think that Barbara should be accepting donations from developers. It creates the appearance of impropriety. But she’s not doing anything illegal and she certainly has not sold her vote. If she sold her vote she would be in prison… Making an accusation like that really crosses the line.”
“I think a hard-nosed primary campaign on legitimate issues would be welcome,” Tribbett added. “That being said, I think the mailings are way too negative, they’re not factually accurate… and I think that Jaime loses a lot of credibility when he overstates his case.”
Favola has been fighting back against the Areizaga-Soto campaign’s allegations.
“My opponent has decided that the only way he can win is to peddle untruths, distort the facts and use personal attacks,” Favola said last month. “I have always been transparent on where I stand on the issues and I have always been loyal to my values. I have never sold my vote to anyone, ever.”
The comparison to McDonnell and Cuccinelli, meanwhile, is a serious allegation in a Democratic primary. In a debate at Wednesday’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, Areizaga-Soto repeatedly referenced the two Republicans, calling their agenda “the biggest threat for the well-being and for the future of our Commonwealth.”
“I will fight back against the extremism that is holding our state back,” he said, citing Republican efforts to curb abortion rights and gay rights in Virginia. “I will go to Richmond and fight for our Democratic values.”
While the debate contained plenty of invective against McDonnell and Cuccinelli — Favola said “the McDonnell/Cuccinelli agenda is hateful, divisive and extreme” — it did not contain the fireworks that one might expect. Areizaga-Soto did not once bring up the Favola’s fundraising. Instead, the two candidates spent most of the evening agreeing with one another on issues like abortion, gay marriage, the environment, education and an increase in the gas tax to fund transportation infrastructure in Northern Virginia.
The biggest difference, if there was one, was on the issue of compromise. While Areizaga-Soto repeatedly pledged to be a “strong voice” for “progressive values,” Favola said she would work with Republicans to accomplish local goals.
“I know how to work both side of the aisle,” she said.