Arlington, VA

The retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple has entered the ring in the knock-down-drag-out fight for her 31st District state Senate seat.

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.”

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