Areizaga-Soto Criticized for Negative Mailers in Primary Race

by ARLnow.com July 8, 2011 at 10:32 am 5,375 51 Comments

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.

  • KalashniKEV

    My two favorite VA politicians… PLUS our hottest local politician??!

    Sign me up for the campaign!

  • Captain Obvious

    Brink had no problem supporting Brian Moran in his negative campaign in 2009, nor did he have any problem supporting Harris Miller in his negative campaign in 2006. This is pure gamesmanship from someone who was clearly always going to endorse Favola.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    Stand back for a 100+ comment thread! Should equal the recent ARLNow posting about Moran and the budget.

  • Peter Rousselot

    Because the issue of developer contributions is an entirely legitimate one, the effort to dismiss it as a “negative attack” falls flat as does Delegate Brink’s attempt to use this as the pretext for his endorsement of Barbara Favola.

    Incumbents or better known elected officials always benefit more than challengers if they can convince the electorate that any criticism of their performance, however fair, is a nefarious and unjustified negative attack.

    I applaud Jaime Areizaga-Soto for raising a perfectly legitimate issue about his opponent’s conduct, not confining himself to artificial campaign standards that others (who are aligned against him) would like him to follow. As the relatively lesser known challenger, Jaime needs both to raise awareness about himself and raise awareness about truthful negative things about Barbara that might come as an unpleasant surprise to likely primary voters.

    If Jaime wins, his strategy will be vindicated. If Jaime loses, Brink and others will say it was because he went negative. I for one agree that Jaime should pursue the strategy he is pursuing.

    • TGEoA

      You should run for CB.

    • Greg

      It’s not legitimate. He said she “sold her vote”. Maybe she shouldn’t have taken developer money, but no one believes she sold her vote. He certainly has no evidence of that. Just like no one believes she is aligned with Kookinelli, like this latest mailer insinuates.

      Frankly, I think she should sue him if she loses.

      • Aaron

        County Board members funneling more money to lawyers for baseless lawsuits?!? It’s the Arlington County way!

      • AllenB

        You’re right, but she’s not going to lose.

      • Stu Pendus

        I’ve actually seen the receipt for the vote, including the payment terms (Net 30, ouch!) and the full waiver and release of liens.

    • Jim Webster

      Peter, the Ariezaga-Soto campaign tactics go beyond legitimate. He questions Barbara’s character. To say that a vote can be purchased is far more serious than merely calling attention to one’s contributions. I believe that this approach backfires in the context of Arlington Democratic politics.
      Moreover, I am deeply troubled by the insinuation that developers are evil per se. Without them, we would not have the vibrant economy that Arlington enjoys. I can join you in ranting against the economic system that has created sprawl beyond Fairfax and overtaxed our transportation system, but we benefit from development that goes “up” rather than “out.”

  • charlie

    why is developer money considered “bad”?
    there are plenty of people who give a ton less in donations and have much more influence without actually being qualified to do so.
    developers built the house you live in.

    • Josh S

      “being qualified to do so”

      What does that mean? Qualified to have influence or qualified to give donations? Or something else? What would make someone qualified to have influence? I would think it would be the simple fact of being alive and registered to vote in the relevant jurisdiction.

      • charlie

        josh, thanks for making my point.
        why are developers who live in arlington not allowed to contribute to campaigns. — being alive and being registered to vote in the relevant jurisdiction should suffice.

        all opinions are qualified. but sometimes people offer opinions on something like, parking policy, who don’t know what they are talking about and yet because they gave $25 to the boat members last campaign their opinion is considered useful. we have professional staff for a reason — they are trained and educated in the topic.

        • They’re allowed to, but the Arlington County Board has an internal understanding that members will NOT accept contributions from developers with business before the board. Barbara Favola’s still on the Board, therefore you’d think she’d still be bound by this. Guess not! 🙂

    • samsonite

      Someone else’s money is always bad.

    • PikeMan

      Developers also compete with each other for lucrative deal. Should their donations to politicians make them more or less likely to be successful?

  • cj

    If Ben Tribbett is accurately quoted (the story has no link to his exact words on this), he’s right on this one. The initial issue is legitimate — sources of campaign contributions are always fair game — but Jaime has created a second issue by inflating questions into flatout, generalized accusations of misconduct, put forth without any supporting facts about actual votes. I’m irretrievably neutral in this primary but have a strong interest in winning the district in November. That will be harder if short-sighted primary tactics undermine the winner’s credibility in a very savvy district with a large, moderate and potentially crucial swing vote.

    Maybe this is too temperate a view for any blog these days, but I’m frustrated enough by the increasing shrillness on all sides to try one small bleat for rationality and cool-headedness in this campaign.

    • Not Larry Sabato

      Hi CJ- Scott called me, and the quote is accurate.

      • Larry Sabato

        What’s wrong with being me?

        • Hoo

          You gave me a “B” back in 1987. Jerk.

          • Josh S

            I thought Bs were still good back in 1987. I remember being happy with a B in 1987.

          • samsonite

            We must have gone to school together, maybe even the same classes.

            But Larry gave me an A.

    • Thes

      @CJ: The latest mailer does appear to cite to a specific Board vote. However, I have not read the citation to determine if it is accurate. Do you think it fails to support the claim?

      • cj

        @Thes: Now that I’ve found time to check: The flyer refers to “Arlington County Board Minutes, Addendum 07-190-08-E”. Without the typo — the correct reference is 07-19-08-E — this is the staff report for one of several elements of developer John Shooshan’s Founders Square (DARPA) project considered and approved by the Board on July 19, 2008. The Board took separate votes on a rezoning, the site plan, a group of right-of-way vacations, a land exchange, and a policy framework for transferring density from Mosaic Park in exchange for funds to develop that park. Favola was not a swing vote on any count; all of the Board approvals were unanimous.

        Two and a half years later, Shooshan made his large donation to Favola’s state Senate campaign. That does invite questions and raise a legitimate issue. But does this sequence of events support the flat, boldfaced assertion that “Favola’s vote is up for sale”? In my view that’s a very long stretch.

        • Thes

          @CJ. Noted! Thanks for the detective work.

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    How much did 7-11 pay Barb? Enquiring minds want to know dammit!

    • Bluemontsince1961


  • Josh S

    I got a call from one of his campaign workers the other day. They had the gall to say something like “you may have seen our flier.” Are you kidding me? I could wallpaper my living room with the fliers I’ve gotten. Then, they ask me if I would support him. I said I wasn’t sure. And the guy responds – “Oh, OK. Goodbye.” Huh? No attempt to even tell me why your guy is great? Jeez, that doesn’t speak to having a particularly well run campaign…..

    • GrilledCheeseConnoisseur

      Yeah, Jaime’s already in the doghouse with me because he feels the need to spam my mailbox with his fliers every week.

      • Josh S

        So, where is the best grilled cheese around here?

        • Greg

          Well that’s a random thought.

        • SaveDaveMckenna

          Bob and Edith’s? But for the price, your own stove.

  • G Clifford Prout

    Just out of curiosity, has anyone else received a call from a group in Utah that claimed to be taking an opinion poll about the candidates in the 30th District for State Senate?

    Last night I got the most hilarious, side splitting, call from some young thing who was conducting this “opinion poll.” Besides the fact that the questions seemed to be designed to make Libby Garvey seem like a saint and her opponents seem like fools, the poor girl who was reading from the script couldn’t read at a third grade level. Now I know it’s hard to pronounce CUCCINELLI when you’re not a Virginian, but she had trouble with other common words in the English language, i.e. “conservative.” It kept coming out “conversative.” She couldn’t even pronounce the candidates’ names. During the 15 minute ordeal I questioned her. She claimed that English was her first language, she did graduate from High School, and she was calling from the United States.

    I was so tired after laughing through this call I went to bed.

    • samsonite

      Funny. Hope I get that call too.

    • Skeptical

      That is almost enough to make me pick up an Out Of Area call on the ID.

    • GS24-7

      Why make fun of some poor woman just trying to make a living? If you asked her if she had a high school diploma, I hope she told you yes and to shove it up your butt.

      • G Clifford Prout

        She called me, I didn’t call her. And it was just soooo easy.

    • Bringmetheyuppies

      she called me and I figured it was Libbys’ daughter or something. Really sounded like a 5 year old to me.

  • John Fontain

    It’s fun to watch the “political establishment” (and their supporters on this site) work themselves into a lather now that the status quo is being challenged. Favola isn’t used to running opposed and you can tell she is quite offended that her opponent would dare bring up anything truthful about her that isn’t glowing (or as she and her supporters call it, “negative”).

    The fact they Favola and crew and reacting so strongly is evidence of how seriously they take the threat, regardless of how much they try to downplay their concern. But rather than spend her time complaining that an opponent is surfacing shady campaign contributions, Favola should return the money and make a public apology for accepting it in the first place. At least that is what she’d do if she truly cared about the constituents and wanted to ensure she was independent in appearance and in fact.

    For Bob Brink to say Jaime is unqualified to represent “us” is way out of line. It’s offensive that he presumes that his personal view is everyone else’s or that he can speak for the voting public on what’s important to them in this election.

    • John Fontain

      “The fact they Favola and crew and reacting so strongly ”

      s/b The fact that Favola and crew are reacting so strongly…

      • Jim

        John Fontain…
        Nothing “shady” about contributions that are fully disclosed, from citizens who are entitled to make them.

        • John Fontain

          Except when they come from entities that have matters before you, which create a conflict of interest in both appearance and fact.

  • neathridge

    I am a long-time Arlington resident and frequent follower of Daily Kos and was thinking of supporting Areizaga-Soto, even after receiving the first negative ad. However, after receiving this ad today, I cannot not do so in good conscience. We do NOT need to have a candidate who wants to win by fraudulently associating current elected Democratic leaders with the arch conservative Republicans currently leading the state. Thank you but that is too much.

    • KalashniKEV

      ooooooooo Daily Kos.

  • Arlwhenever

    Don’t like it? Vote like I do and they don’t send you these fliers, simple enough.

    • Thes

      Do you vote under someone else’s name?

      • Charlie

        Um, thes, there are some republicans in Arlington and are saved of the deluge by not voting in ACDC primary…

        • Thes

          I guess Republican candidates never send fliers, then?

          • charlie

            the issue isn’t “flyers” but the quantity (that is what is meant by deluge, btw).

  • John Andre

    The big problem here: Barbara Favola is RIGHT on the developers’ take! We need an INDEPENDENT presence on the Democratic ticket.

  • Here’s the issue. People say negative campaigning doesn’t work. But it does, oh it sure does. We would not be talking about Favola’s opponent so fervently otherwise. He’s gotten onto the public radar.

    When you’re that far behind your opponent you have to go negative (or “compare and contrast”) it would seem. I will say however –coming from NY–I’ve seen Democratic primary candidates take the higher road. If you’re that much ahead then responding only gives your challenger momentum.

    In Bush’s Brain a book on Karl Rove the takeaway was to stay on the offensive. Once you play defense you’ve lost. If you’re attacked don’t respond in defense, respond with a counter attack but only if it will help more than just ignoring the attack.

    Favola could have easily dug into her opponent on some issue (do some oppo research). Or if the polls are in her favor ignore him.

    Now back to taking the higher road. It has been done of course you’ve heard the Reagan mantra of “never attack another Republican.” Although that has changed for the GOP lately.

    Ah, politics…it’s best left to the politicians leave the change to the people. Get out there and mobizlie. 🙂


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