Local Democrats are putting the unprecedented mud-slinging leading up to Tuesday’s primary behind them as they press forward to November’s general election with a slate of four candidates and two Republican challengers.
“For months, our Democratic candidates have waged energetic and spirited primary campaigns, and we look forward to all campaigns being able to turn this energy into supporting our united Democratic ticket in November,” said Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Mike Lieberman, following a 31st District state Senate race that the Washington Post called “one of the most heated, unpleasant races in recent memory.”
Candidates Barbara Favola and Jaime Areizaga-Soto, who were trading accusations of making racist statements and destroying the environment less than two weeks ago, are now making nice via prepared statements.
“We ran an energetic, grassroots, progressive campaign throughout the 31st District in Northern Virginia and I am very proud of the work we did,” Areizaga-Soto said in a statement. “I call on all my supporters throughout Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun to work for a Barbara Favola victory in November.
“This campaign… demonstrated that Mr. Areizaga-Soto and I share the same strong commitment to Democratic values,” Favola said in a statement. “I applaud Mr. Areizaga-Soto’s service to the Democratic Party and to the Country. His talents will be a significant asset in the upcoming battle to retain the 31st Senate seat”
In an interview, Favola said she hopes the race between herself and Republican Caren Merrick will stay focused on the issues.
“I’m hopeful that the general will be a civil conversation on issues like education, transportation, the environment and creating jobs,” she said. “I think voters really don’t like the negative campaigning. They really want to be given a reason to vote for you.”
Favola says she’s ready to face the well-funded Merrick, adding that Democratic unity will help her prevail.
“We’re geared up to move into the general,” she said. “We have a great message, we’re positive, we’re talking about issues people care about… I absolutely think Democrats are going to be able to unite. We know that the stakes are high. It’s not just winning the 31st, it’s keeping control of the state Senate. I have every indication they’ll rally around.”
In the Sun Gazette today, Merrick called the mud-slinging between Favola and Areizaga-Soto an example of “what’s wrong with politics today.” Should the general election turn negative, however, Favola says she isn’t sure how her issue-focused campaign will react.
“I guess one thing about politics is that it’s always unpredictable,” she said. “I’m not going to presuppose how we’re going to respond.”