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Favola, Areizaga-Soto Criticized at Forum for Negative Campaign

by ARLnow.com August 10, 2011 at 11:50 am 4,961 57 Comments

You’d expect that the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance would be a friendly venue for two Democratic candidates who both have voiced a strong pro-equality, pro-LGBT message. For the most part last night, at the AGLA’s forum for primary candidates, it was. But then 31st District state Senate rivals Barbara Favola and Jaime Areizaga-Soto unexpectedly had some of the negativity of their campaigns thrown back at them.

“I have to say to both of you, I am disgusted and appalled by this campaign,” Betsey Wildhack, a past president of AGLA who’s active in local Democratic politics, said during the forum’s question-and-answer session.

“I don’t understand how you all can present this as the best the party has to offer, with these constant negative attacks,” Wildhack said, as heads nodded in agreement in the audience. “How in the world will any of you beat [Republican 31st District candidate] Caren Merrick when you have laid out her campaign against both of you?”

Favola responded first.

“Well, that’s a very interesting observation,” she said. “Certainly this campaign has been far more robust and lively — and some would say has had more negative a tone — than we have seen in Arlington. I don’t think this campaign has in any way damaged either of us for the general election. I think what it has done is enabled two candidates to develop strong organizations to knock on thousands of doors. We in effect had a six month trial period of really kicking into gear a first-rate campaign team, so that really has been an advantage.”

“Fortunately in Arlington, [Democrats] have a long tradition of coming together after a primary,” she added. “I’m very confident… I know that the November election will turn blue for our seat.”

Areizaga-Soto then weighed in, insisting that his negative mailers were focused on “the facts” while Favola’s focused on “smear attacks and false attacks.”

“All of a sudden I have destroyed the Amazon and destroyed the American economy by being a second-year associate in downtown law firms in D.C… I am very disappointed in the mud that has been thrown in this campaign, especially when it’s not based in facts like all the pieces that my opponent has raised,” he said. “I haven’t raised false claims against my opponent’s records, I have gone to the facts. And those facts the voters deserve to know in the primary, if not they were going to know them in the general.”

“You have a right to your own opinions, but not to your own facts… I’ve always talked to the truth. I stood to the facts,” Areizaga-Soto added. “It’s been overwhelmingly positive.”

Asked about the candidates’ responses, Wildhack seemed to disagree that there are many facts being discussed in the campaign.

“From their mailers, I don’t know a single thing about either one of them,” she said. “I just know bad stuff about both of them. I think they’re getting some really bad advice on how to run a campaign in this town. ”

Wildhack, an early Areizaga-Soto supporter, said that right now “I wouldn’t vote for either one of them, not anymore.”

“Their campaign does not reflect the community that I live in,” she said. “If I didn’t own my house I’d move eight blocks to be in a different district.”

  • BrownFlipFlops

    Er, what??

    Well, if nothing else, Babs has demonstrated that she can seem to answer a question, without really answering the question, and still stay on message, so there’s that.

    • Lou

      I’m no political consultant, but I think Jaime won that round. He stuck to his guns and his message and reiterated that he is focusing on facts. There’s on equivocation in his message.

      Barbara’s response kind of dismissed the overwhelming public opinion that they are damaging themselves and the party’s chances.

      • BrownFlipFlops

        My comment was meant to be sarcastic. I was damning her with faint praise. I was trying to convey, “Sigh. It looks like she’s skilled at being a typical politician, and we’re doomed to get insincere, patronizing, condescending representation going forward.”

        I don’t have a dog in the fight, as I have been gerrymandered out of 31, but I AM thoroughly tired of everyone’s behavior.

        • Lou

          No problem, I wasn’t really sure if you were serious anyway. Just seemed like a comment that fit mine well.

        • Bluemontsince1961


  • Kim

    Go Betsey!

  • JimPB

    Hurrah for the attendees for zapping the candidates for their negative campaign ads.

    The Republicans have had a good rule: Say nothing bad about another Republican. It’s a good rule for Democrats, too.

    Send a message at the ballot box: Write in “Somebody Else.”

    • PikeMan

      republicans never say anythin bad about another republican?

      apparently you’ve never seen a competitive republican primary. look up what happened to John McCain in South Carolina for starters.

      • Bluemontsince1961


        Exactly! Doesn’t matter which party, when its primary time, they go after “their own” like sharks. Plenty of Republicans had said bad stuff about other Republicans, ditto Democrats about other Democrats. They’re politicians and all they want is power.

  • G Clifford Prout

    Pumpkin-face is looking a little haggard there.

    • madisonmanor

      Wouldn’t be the first time someone accused me of being dense, but I just pasted both individual pictures side-by-side (I’m a masochist) – I fail to see which *one* you are calling pumpkin-face. . .

      • G Clifford Prout

        His official headshot always made me think he was really a jack-o-lantern.

  • Josh S

    I don’t know, Favola may have sort of avoided the question but at least she didn’t answer a question about why has the campaign included so many attacks with yet another attack. She had the smarts not to do that. May have swung my vote back her way…..

    • normal

      Yeah, I noticed that too.

    • John Fontain

      Your vote is determined by who is the least negative in the campaign rather than based on the candidates’ qualifications and views? Interesting.

      • LyonParkVoter


  • Patrick

    Both of these candidates are pathetic. Caren Merrick is the only real chose in the election that matters in november.

    • normal

      Thanks for your input. You must be one of the three Republicans in Arlington.

    • Arlwhenever

      I want Favola to win so we can be entertained by the cat fight with Merrick come November. It will be a trip.

      • dino

        As a die-hard Democrat I often vote for the Republican in local races, if I can stomach their social policies – mainly because our county government is too incestuous and inbred. And this negative campaign has not swayed me to the D side.

  • Bob

    Way to go Betsey! That’s why she’s my lawyer!!!

  • Louise

    I am disappointed. As far as I’m concerned, Favola never would have gone negative if Ariezaga-Sota hadn’t started all of this. It’s irritating to have him sit up there and lie about how he hasn’t been negative, giving his excuse that he’s “just stating facts”. Even if they’re his (perceived) facts, he’s still started this, instead of focusing on himself. Boo. Run on your own merits.

  • c

    She makes my pants move.

    • Bluemontsince1961


  • i’m in 30, not 31, so i hadn’t been following this race, but if this was my district, jaime would have easily won my vote last night. he came across as very genuine, while favola’s (non-verbal) responses were very sarcastic, rolling eyes, sighs, and all. luckily for me (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) the race in the 30th has 3 excellent candidates (libby, ebbin, krupicka). i wish we could send all 3 of them to richmond.

    • Tabby

      I couldn’t agree more.

      • nauckneighbor

        I’ll second that! I have been thoroughly impressed with all of the candidates in the 30th district and wish the candidates of the 31st district had as much class and professional as these three candidates.

    • Tabby

      On that note, how DO you decide who gets your vote out of Rob, Libby, and Adam?

      Adam wins the “has killed fewer trees” vote.
      Libby wins the “has actually knocked on my door and said hi” vote. Although if she mentions having had cancer one more time…
      Rob wins the early name exposure vote but loses serious points for overdoing the mailings more than anyone.

      • though i do really like all 3, for me ebbin/libby have a slight edge, although krupicka was the first straight member of va partisans which is awesome. i’ve followed ebbin in local govt for several years, so that plus having someone openly gay in richmond makes me think i’ll tip his direction. that said, i think libby would do a spectacular job and be just as strong on social issues that i’m most interested in (specifically equal rights and education). SO HARD! i will honestly be happy with any of them representing me. can’t remember ever getting to say that before, not as strongly anyhow.

  • LyonParkVoter

    I won’t get into which side started the negative campaigning first or whether the claims are accurate (some of my prior posts already cover my position on the merits of each candidate’s claims), however, for folks to be so dramatic about what each has said so far is honestly ridiculous. Don’t vote for either or for Merrick? Really?!

    Both campaigns have been tame by traditional standards of “negative campaigning.” Just look up recent elections in VA and you will see how harsh they have been compared to this. Plus, what do you think Merrick will do? Does anyone not think that Merrick has already analyzed Favola’s voting record and campaign contributions from special interests and somehow Areizaga-Soto let out a secret? Or that Merrick has also been conducting research into Areizaga-Soto’s background? She will hit on the same themes and then some. Arguably this has actually helped both candidates campaign skills for what is to come — especially Barabara who has never won a contested election. In terms of the issues, let’s again be honest, do you expect there to be much difference between the two?

    The bottom line in this election will come down to: 1) voter turnout and, 2) more importantly, if voters wish to continue with the same business as usual (D Party Machine, Special Interests, voting as instructed, etc.) or if they want a new, energetic candidate to represent them.

    At least from my unscientific discussions with my neighbors, it appears that most folks I talk to want change and are fed up of being taken for granted. Even Merrick has tapped into the anti-incumbent, career-politician sentiment. If the recent polls are correct after the debt fiasco, where voters want term limits and to get rid of career politicians who will only continue to follow the current way of doing business, then there is a good chance that voters will vote for Areizaga-Soto.

    • Josh S

      “The bottom line in this election will come down to: 1) voter turnout and, 2) more importantly, if voters wish to continue with the same business as usual (D Party Machine, Special Interests, voting as instructed, etc.) or if they want a new, energetic candidate to represent them.”

      This is hilarious. How stupid do you think we are?

      • LyonParkVoter

        Glad I made you laugh. Need to keep our sense of humor through all of this.

    • Bemused bystander

      Do Barbara and Jaime have different positions on the debt fiasco? Is either relevant to a state senate race?

  • KalashniKEV

    “I don’t know a single thing about either one of them,” she said. “I just know bad stuff about both of them.”

    That’s because they’re both full of bad stuff!


  • The campaigns have definitely been negative, not questioning that. But isn’t that the only thing ArlNow & the Sun Gazette are covering? I mean, did the forum reveal any substantive policy differences?

    • LyonParkVoter

      I agree. I’ve attended three of the forums and aside from the first one that was boring and was really more an introduction of the candidates, the one out in Great Falls and the one hosted by the New Latino Movement were actually great. The candidates discussed the issues and there were some differences between the two. I can understand why folks are upset if they are only left with flyers and whatever they read in the Sun or ArlNow. I did not see reporters from the Sun or ArlNow at the two events I attended which again would have been good and informative to their readers and voters.

    • Substantive policy differences? Not really. Favola admitted that “my opponent and I are very similar on the issues that matter.” But Jaime said he “will not vote for a caucus chair who’s not a progressive,” if that can be viewed as a substantive difference.

      • LyonParkVoter

        Did you attend the debate in Great Falls? The one hosted by the New Latino Movement? Particularly the second event I believe lasted over an hour and covered numerous topics. Maybe the NLM can post the entire debate on their website so others can hear what each had to say.

  • Jennifer

    I want to thank both candidates for making such useful fliers this summer. Their size and heavy card stock make for great fans while walking from the mailbox to my apartment.

  • SouthArlingtonReady

    Does anyone else see a real possibility of a republican grabbing this seat?

    (Let the snipping and snarky comments of the usual suspects begin.)

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Uh-oh, stand back! It could get ugly!

      • SouthArlingtonReady

        I’m a D. I don’t know if having an R would be so bad given all the infighting that seems to be prevalent among the D’s. What ever happened to respect and common courtesy? I’m only 35 but I do remember a time when the cowardly comments posted here wouldn’t be said in person and wouldn’t be written here either.

        It goes without saying on this board, when you disagree and can’t make a legitimate argument, resort to any of the following: make fun of, insinuate less education, my opinion is better than yours, I know more than you, I’m more liberal, I’m more conservative, etc…You get my point.

        Let’s all act like we live in the “most educated” county in the country, shall we?

        • Disgusted

          I totally agree, SAR. I’m a lifelong, hardcore Dem, and I’m thoroughly disgusted by this intra-party mudslinging and the self-righteous blog comments here and on the other one whipping up anti-Favola hysteria by Areizaga’s supporters. They’re from the same party, with the same goals, for God’s sake! Is it so important to win an election to sacrifice class and dignity???

  • APSnumberone

    SAR, you bet there is a real possibility of a Republican grabbing this seat. These two candidates have handed Merrick her campaign against either one of them on a silver platter with all their nasty stuff.

  • Bob

    A Republican, namely Merrick, can most certainly win this seat. That’s why Janet Howell pushed to have Merrick redistricted out of her seat and into this district.

    Saslaw should have told Howell to stick it out and face Merrick as an incumbent. Then let Favola duke it out with Patrick Hope. Alas…

  • APSnumberone

    Hope would have been a stronger candidate to begin with. It’s too bad the powers of the Dem. party told him not to run.

    • Suzanne Smith Sundburg

      I agree about Hope. He would have been a much stronger candidate than Favola in the general election. His stump persona isn’t gripping, but he’s earnest and real—a blessed relief of fresh air. It’s always interesting when someone mentions the “powers” of the Arlington Democratic Party—no one ever seems to know (or to be willing to say) precisely who those powers are.

      BTW, Jaime (and Hope) were in attendance at the Virginia Conservation Network’s workshop on the uranium-mining issue back in June. They deserve credit for showing up. Favola was no where to be seen.

  • ArlTaxpayer

    Regardles of political affiliation or loyalty, why should anyone vote a strict party line? Whatever happened to voting for the best “person” who will best represent our county, district, state or Federal Gvt.? It amazes me that otherwise intelligent people will vote for a candidate who has potential or confirmed ethical issues. Since any elected official is supposed to represent the people, they should be ethical and not have such issues in their past or current political or personal life. We all know that most any politician has ethical or moral issues currently and in the past yet we continue to elect them. Why? What does that say about “We The People” when we continue to ask for these types of people to make our laws? In the foundation of this country, it was never intended for someone to be a career politician. Our founding fathers wanted a person to serve then return to private life and be productive.

    • Maria

      I agree with you about career politicians. I’m honestly beginning to think every politician should have maybe a 2 year term and that’s it… no reelections.

      As for party lines, I don’t necessarily think people SHOULD, but I think people DO because candidates now tend to stick to their party’s platforms so strongly out of fear of not being elected/reelected that sometimes, even if the candidate from your own party isn’t the best, the others may be so far away from your values that you can’t bring yourself to vote for them.

      Some voters have certain issues that are very important to them, and if a candidate is on the other side of that issue, it can be nearly impossible to stomach voting for that person, no matter how much you may agree with their other stances…. if that makes sense?

      • Bluemontsince1961


        I agree with you on limiting a politician’s term. IMO, I think every politician, whether Dem, Pub, or whatever serves a maximum of two terms. Period. No reelections. From President (who is constitutionally limited to two terms) down to local County Board – two terms then out, no matter what party. Keeps them from getting getting too corrupt and too powerful.

  • APSnumberone

    The “powers” of the Democratic Party? In Arlington, just go to an ACDC meeting and it becomes fairly apparent. And of course, it is ridiculous to just vote the party line in any election, however, in this one, a democrat can’t ignore the pressure to keep the state senate a democratic majority.

  • Civic Activist

    Thanks to a legacy of the Democratic Byrd Machine, we cannot write in names in a primary election; these two are our only primary choices. After this primary, Caren Merrick should change her name to “None of the Above” for the general election.

  • John

    Jamie came by my house while canvasing my neighborhood. We talked for a while. He was very smart and had a good grasp of the issues. Though we didn’t agree on everything, we agreed on most things. Right now he’s got my vote. I’m choosing the handshake and an ear vs. junk mail.

  • Cate

    Finally got my new voter registration and all I can say is, I’m so, so glad that I’m not in the 31st. I’m so appalled by both candidates’ behavior that I would wind up voting for myself. I can’t take any politician who spends more time bickering and bitching with their opponent vs. actually promoting themselves and their issues even remotely seriously.

  • Pingback: Disgusted and appalled « Bluementum()

  • nota again

    Class and integrity in national politics since 2008? I dont think so.
    I do agree that D&R voters want term/benefit limits and to get rid of career politicians who follow the current ways of doing business. So these two small potatoes, can they affect those changes? I do not think either should go to higher levels in politics.

  • Admited Jaime Supporter

    The anger should be directed at the Senate Leadership and their “chosen” candidate for deciding that getting their own way was more important than anything else.

    And to anyone who is “disgusted” by the way a newcomer has to fight his or her way into the party structure, your disgust is misplaced; you are blaming the victim.


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