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Social Issues Dominate State Senate Debate

by ARLnow.com October 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm 3,206 76 Comments

Republican state Senate candidate Caren Merrick is running on jobs, jobs, jobs. But questions from the audience at last night’s candidate forum in Cherrydale focused on abortion, guns and more guns.

Merrick started out the night with a stump speech that focused on her background as a successful businesswoman and on her desire “streamline regulation and taxation so we can unleash the entrepreneurial spirit.” During the speech Merrick, a McLean resident, tried to strike a bipartisan tone.

“I am not running as a partisan, I’m running to represent every one in this district,” she said. “I am not running on social issues.”

Alas, social issues quickly entered the conversation as questions from the audience focused on more divisive subjects.

“How will you stand up for my daughter’s right to choose?” one man asked.

“There are millions of good people on both sides of this issue,” Merrick replied. “I am pro-life and I am pro-woman.”

Merrick’s Democratic opponent, Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola, then answered and drew loud applause as she declared herself “100 percent pro-choice.” She went on to argue that if Merrick was elected, Republicans in the Virginia legislature would have a better shot at passing laws that restrict abortion rights and the rights of immigrants.

“I am very troubled by this social agenda,” she said of state Republicans.

Later, Merrick was asked about the A- rating she received from the National Rifle Association. The man asking about it was Omar Samaha, a three-year Cherrydale resident whose sister was killed in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. Samaha asked if the candidates supported background checks on private gun sales.

“I’ve been around guns all my life, but in a safe way… a responsible way,” said Merrick, whose father was a Marine. Pressed on whether she thinks background checks should be required for all gun sales, Merrick said yes.

“I do think we should have a background check,” she said.

Favola was again unequivocal, saying she was proud of the ‘F’ she received from the NRA

“I feel very strongly that we have too many gun sales in this country, to people who are not mentally stable and should not be having access to guns,” Favola said. She went on to question why guns are allowed in Virginia’s bars and why localities like Arlington don’t have more power to regulate guns.

Another resident asked Favola and Merrick whether they’d release their answers to the survey the NRA sends to candidates. Favola said she, in fact, did not respond to the survey. Merrick said she would release the survey before the election, and then commented on the question itself.

“I have to say, these questions tonight have not been representative of what I’ve been asked as I’ve knocked on doors around the district,” she said.

“I am running on jobs and the economy,” said Merrick. “We need to diversify our economy. That is the most important issue.”

In her closing remarks, Favola said there’s “a definite choice” between herself and Merrick, adding that Merrick was listed on a Northern Virginia Tea Party website. Merrick, who earlier criticized the “rancor” on Capitol Hill, took the bait. She responded by saying that Favola “knows nothing about” bipartisanship.

“I’m not a member of the Tea Party, I don’t know how my picture got up there,” she said tersely. “Barbara Favola is not looking to solve problems, she’s looking to start a fight.”

  • Novanglus

    Did Favola talk about what she’d do about diversifying the economy? She has a good story to tell, and might get some votes outside the dem base if she tells it.

    Merrick said “these questions tonight have not been representative of what I’ve been asked as I’ve knocked on doors around the district.” I wonder if she’s only knocking in Great Falls and West McLean.

    It sounds like both candidates are reverting to a turnout battle between very-blue Arlington and the very-red parts of the district. If that’s the case, a debate is a waste of everyone’s time.

    • Favola talked about how she helped to promote job training problems while serving on the Northern Virginia Regional Partnership.

      • Lou

        I agree she promotes a lot of problems, but she is actually using that as part of her platform?

        • It doesn’t seem to be a top focus of the campaign.

  • JimPB

    In national polls jobs are consistently identified as Job 1 (the top priority). Favola should address this.

    • Thes

      1) See above, Favola did address this.
      2) These women are running for the 31st Virginia Senate District (which has unemployment below 5%) not President. I certainly hope they’re not being guided by national polls

  • tonedeaf

    with the unemployment rate at 3.9% in arlington (august/google) you gotta wonder how much merrick is hearing jobs jobs jobs from residents and how much from her consultants. dont’ know about the rest of the district but the rate’s probably not much worse in great falls..

  • Good video from last night about releasing the NRA survey.

    • Blue Virginia
    • Steamboat Willie

      Man, in that video, Caren Merrick really looked like she wanted to be anywhere other than that debate chair. Talk about a weasely (sp?) answer – I promise you’ll see it before you pull the lever. She’s the candidate, for crying out loud, so she could authorize the NRA survey release in minutes.

      In her defense, Cherrydale is perhaps the least R precinct in the entire district, so it wasn’t friendly territory. Still, she looked weak in that exchange and seemed to be condescending to the voter asking the question.

      • Steamboat Willie

        The second link of videos is even worse for Merrick. Her answer to the brother of a Virginia Tech murder victim was so fake that it was almost laughable were it not for the underlying topic. “Did you say your sister passed away? I’m sooooooo sorry to hear that.” Yack.

  • novasteve

    What is Favola so opposed to things explicit in the constitution like the second amendment?

    • Carl

      Because she is an anti-constitution extremist.

      • novasteve

        OMG, I thought I was teh only non liberal on here.

        • Steamboat Willie

          No you didn’t.

    • drax

      To say that mentally unstable people shouldn’t have guns is not anti-Second Amendment.

      • Zoning Victim

        To say that localities should have more power to regulate guns and imply that guns shouldn’t be allowed in bars could certainly be construed as being anti-2nd Amendment. Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that someone who makes statements like she made are actually supportive of the 2nd Amendment. I’m sure if it were up to her the 2nd Amendment would be repealed.

        • BallstonOpoly

          If that is the case, then she has my vote!

      • ArlResident


    • Paco

      Because Arlington doesn’t have “a well regulated militia.”

      • Zoning Victim

        A) I doubt that you can prove that and would be surprised if there weren’t at least a few militia members in Arlington County.

        B) That doesn’t make any difference.

  • TGEoA

    Surprised Bab’s had the nerve to show up. The last time she was at the Cherrydale firestation she had a hissy fit and stormed out like a spoiled brat.

    Well, if she wins, at least the 2nd biggest moron is off the CB.

    • Plunkitt of Clarendon Blvd

      “Well, if she wins, at least the 2nd biggest moron is off the CB.”

      Okay I give up….who is No. 1 ??

      Inquiring minds want to know !!

    • Sgt. Hartman

      That’s true. I’m voting for Merrick, but Favola would do less damage as a Delegate because her vote will be diluted by downstate representatives.

      • Sgt. Hartman

        Sorry, “Senator.”

  • Peter Principle

    I worked with Merrick back in the day. Her supposed experience creating jobs is based on working in marketing for the company her husband founded and ran. Her husband, his backers and team of technologists created jobs, not her. She does not know how to run a business, but she can write a wonderful press release.

    • Steamboat Willie

      That would have made for some good video had you shown up and posed that to her in the form of a question. She definitely gives off a Stepford Wife vibe.

    • madisonmanor

      So you can state with 100% certainty that she and her husband NEVER discussed work planning outside your earshot? Didn’t think so. “My wife overheard Babs’ neighbor in the bathroom the other day, and she said. . .” Both are speculative and secondhand in nature.

      Lucky for me I don’t get saddled with EITHER of these losers as my representative but you people are pretty pathetic. If guns (don’t forget, our Department of Justice sold plenty of guns to known violent criminals) and abortion rhetoric are Arlington’s primary concerns (both upheld at the FEDERAL level), life can’t be that bad.

      • Zoning Victim

        That’s so true. I’ve never understood how these two topics have dominated the political landscape for as long as they have with all of the real problems that exist in this country that people running for office can actually affect.

  • roquer

    Great job Ms. Merrick!!! I’m happy that Favola is happy with her F by the NRA too!! We know in Arlington that this is the exact kind of person that will take the right of self protection away from the very women who aren’t going to have the cops around if what Biden said yesterday is true. With Merrick, women have a chance to protect theirselves in times of great danger. Calling the police is a good thing to do, but what if one is attacked? I don’t know any attackers that will wait for a woman to call the cops, then attack her. I also don’t know any attackers that would deliberately choose an armed woman to attack as well. You go Ms. Merrick! People with brains are behind you all the way. Had VA Tech students been carrying guns that fateful day, there’d have been a helluva lot LESS killing.

    • drax

      “We know in Arlington that this is the exact kind of person that will take the right of self protection away from the very women who aren’t going to have the cops around”

      I didn’t hear her say anything that indicates that.

    • KalashniKEV

      I too, am happy that Favola is happy with her NRA F rating.

    • sue

      You are a complete idiot. A bunch of 18-year old college students armed with guns is exactly what a college campus needs.

      I am a Hokie alum, btw. That crazy bastard never should have had a firearm in the first place. The people responsible for him having one should be in jail.

      • drax

        I see you’ve met Kev.

      • KalashniKEV

        “A bunch of 18-year old… armed with guns is…”

        The backbone of American Freedom?

        • drax

          In college though?

          Is Va. Tech at risk of invasion?

          • KalashniKEV

            Did you hear about what happened in ’07?????

          • drax

            Yeah. Some mentally unstable guy got hold of a gun.

            Sinking in yet?

          • KalashniKEV

            Spree killings only happen in Gun Free Zones- Schools, Malls, Hospitals, Government Buildings, Military Installations.

            I guess you haven’t given it much thought, have you?

      • Zoning Victim

        “A bunch of 18-year old college students armed with guns […]”

        You’ve just described the bulk of the fighting men and women of the US armed forces.

        “The people responsible for him having one should be in jail.”

        By that, do you mean the judge who ordered him to get mental help but never followed through to ensure he got it? Or perhaps you have someone else in the judicial branch who you think was responsible? The person who actually sold him the gun did nothing illegal.

        • KalashniKEV

          How about we just blame the killer?
          *shrugs shoulders*

          • drax

            Blame doesn’t bring people back to life.

          • KalashniKEV

            BINGO. So why are libs always trying to blame everyone but the responsible party?

    • YoBimbo

      “Had VA Tech students been carrying guns that fateful day, there’d have been a helluva lot LESS killing.”

      Actually, I think it would have been an even bigger massacre with inexperienced children flinging bullets in all directions. I can’t believe you even wrote that.

      How sad for you that you live in such fear.

  • novasteve

    “She went on to argue that if Merrick was elected, Republicans in the Virginia legislature would have a better shot at passing laws that restrict abortion rights and the rights of immigrants”

    Rights of immigrants? Really? Is this another liberal lie when they try to lump everyone together when they really mean illegal aliens?

    Why do liberals need to lie?

    • drax

      That was ArlNow speaking, not Babs. You should go look up what she actually said before you go calling her a liar, because it might be different.

      • Steve

        Would Mr. Arlnow like to clarify this? The Arlington Country Democrat Messenger doesn’t say her, but says in general terms that republicans will cause discrimination against recent immigrants. I started a topic on it in the message board and posted a link of a photo of it. Coincidence?

        • drax

          So you admit you have no idea if she was lying, Steve? Oh, and your generalization about “liberals” was completely unfair regardless – not that we expect more of you.

      • Steve

        Here’s the democratic messenger stating that republicans will be for “intolerance” against “recent immigrants”.


        • drax

          Still not Babs speaking.

          Why did YOU lie?

          • novasteve

            It’s her party, and are you accusing Mr. Arlnow of lying or doing a bad job of writing the article? Is it a giant coincidence that her party makes those comments in their pamphlet and it’s also in the article? Just a coincidence, right?

          • drax

            You accused HER of saying something, not her party. Her party doesn’t speak for her any more than your party, if you affiliate with one, speaks for you.

            YOU were the liar here. Irony.

          • drax

            Okay, wait, I see a “Steve” and a “novasteve” – sorry if you are different people and I’ve mixed up the two.

          • novasteve

            If the republican party said something about homosexuality, you’d be blaming the candidate. And unless Mr. Arlnow was wrong, she said the same thing about “immigrants” and republicans at the debate.

          • Zoning Victim

            Okay, well, this is the dumbest argument I’ve seen in a while. If you have some proof that arlnow.com misrepresented what she said, then why don’t you just present it instead of perpetuating a childish “you’re the liar, no she’s the liar” argument?

          • drax

            Zoning Victim,

            Didn’t say they misrepresented, just that you can’t call someone a liar without a direct quote of the alleged lie. Summaries of what was said isn’t enough. And it’s not my job, I’m not the one accusing her of anything.

          • Zoning Victim

            That’s a pretty weird standard. She’s a politician, which is enough to prove to me she’s a liar, ha-ha.

            In all seriousness though, Steve is saying that Ms. Favola and most liberals are using the term “immigrant” when they really mean “illegal-immigrant” and that they are doing it purposely to mislead people. Although I often disagree with Steve on a lot of things, I agree with him here. Enacting laws that make it easier to detect illegal-immigrants is not an infringement on “immigrants’ rights.” Frankly, I get really sick of hearing about immigrant rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights and any other subgroup anybody can come up with and then put “rights” after it. The framers believed all of our rights were bestowed upon us by our maker and that they are universal, which makes statements like “immigrants’ rights” somewhat of a lie in the first place since the rights of an immigrant are no different from the rights of any other person. Of course, we live in a time where people are incapable of distinguishing between inalienable (natural) rights, common law and things everyone desires to have or have access to, so it’s really no surprise that people keep trying to afford all sorts of special “rights” to special subgroups; especially when winning an election is part of the plan.

            Why anyone would think that liberals are the only people who lie is beyond me, though. Republicans claim to be conservatives and yet they’re responsible for all sorts of runaway government spending; what bigger lie could there be than that?

          • drax

            “Steve is saying that Ms. Favola and most liberals are using the term “immigrant” when they really mean “illegal-immigrant” and that they are doing it purposely to mislead people. ”

            I understand what he’s saying, I’m saying that unless he quotes her directly, it’s not fair to say it. As soon as I see her say that in quotes, I’ll be glad to agree with him.

          • novasteve

            Steve and novasteve are the same, sometimes I’m not logged in.

          • KalashniKEV

            I think it’s OK to attribute statements made by a party to THEIR candidate. Why does Favola feel it’s OK to attribute statements of the TEA party to Merrick, when she is NOT a member of that party?

          • drax

            No, it is not okay to attribute a statement to anyone except those who, like, actually made the statement.

            No, Favola did not attribute statements of the tea party to Merrick either.

          • madisonmanor

            “mailers paid for by the Democratic Party of Virginia and authorized by Favola have now gone negative. The mailers contain sentences like: “Caren Merrick will stand with extremists against a woman’s right to choose” and “Tea Party Republican Caren Merrick doesn’t share our values.” – from ArlNow 10/17/11

            So technically, Ms. Merrick said she was “pro-life” and not ‘I will stand with extremists against a woman’s right to choose’ like Babs said. Think Babs will recant her lie?

            And as for the tea party comment – care to revise your comment? Or do you need more documented proof?

          • drax

            Neither that nor the tea party comment follow this thread of the conversation. My comments were pretty specific.

  • Pink Elephant

    I love a good cat fight!

  • Paco

    ““I have to say, these questions tonight have not been representative of what I’ve been asked as I’ve knocked on doors around the district,” she said.”

    Merrick is full of baloney. I emailed her more than a month ago about abortion rights and Virginia’s lawsuit against the Obama health care reform law. Never got a response. I even tried Twitter. Nothing.

    It’s not about the questions she’s been asked. It’s all about the questions she wants to answer and the ones she wants to ignore.

    Despite her flaws, Favola is the only qualified person for the 31st Senate district.

    • Steve

      So having no standards for abortion clinics makes one the only qualified person for the 31st senate district?

      VA’s healthcare lawsuit, or the others will eventually win. It’s unconstitutional, the insurance mandate. Deal.

  • KalashniKEV

    I look into Favola’s eyes and I see no intelligence behind them. It’s no wonder she hasn’t accomplished more in life.

    • Steve

      There’s no need to insult people. I don’t like her politics, and I’m certainly not going to vote for her, but there’s no need for stuff like this, like there’s no need for liberals to say that she’s going to personally outlaw abortion and thus oppress women and put all “immigrants” into concentration camps.

      • drax

        Look everyone, steve is calling for moderation.

      • KalashniKEV

        It’s true though. You can tell a lot about a person just by looking in their eyes… even in a photo.

    • Steamboat Willie

      Gee Kev, where have I heard that before?

      • drax

        Lol! Good memory.

      • KalashniKEV

        I <3 Putin.

  • TheBoss

    Merrick is kind of cute. She’s got my vote!!

  • Jesus Christ

    FREE ABORTIONS FOR ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Carl

    Favola is a foolish anti-gun extremist who does not respect the Constitution. She asks why Arlington does not have more power to regulate guns. Does she not understand the Virginia Constitution? Typical Arlington mindset, she wants to create an Arlington law that would be different from the rest of the state. Sorry, that can not happen, which takes guns out of the realm of issue relevant to this election.


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