Arlington, VA

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Last year Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated a generally well-liked incumbent with a wealth of seniority and influence in a heavily Democrat Congressional district in New York City. She did it despite being outspent somewhere in the range of 18 to 1. It shocked the media and so-called political establishment.

It also inspired other candidates to forego “waiting their turn” to run for office. This year four sitting Democrats in Arlington are facing intraparty challenges for the nomination to their party’s ballot slot in November. It would not be surprising to see a similar challenge in next year’s 8th Congressional District race as well.

While AOC’s success may be inspiring, it did something that hurts long-shot challengers this year. It eliminated the element of surprise. Seeing such a high profile upset, incumbents generally become sufficiently scared to take these challenges seriously.

Thus far, two of the races stick out based on the only metric we have available to us: campaign finances. Parisa Dehghani-Tafti has raised nearly $108,000 in her race against Theo Stamos for Commonwealth Attorney. However, Stamos holds a $50,000 plus cash on hand advantage.

The school board race between Reid Goldstein and David Priddy is also financially competitive, but only because both candidates reported anemic fundraising. Neither candidate has even $10,000 available to spend as of March 31st.

Surprises could happen, but the safe bet so far is on incumbents to win.

As for election season more broadly in Virginia, it appears as though Democrats looking to take control of the General Assembly may not be able to count on big financial support from their three statewide officeholders. According to the most recent fundraising reports, money has dried up considerably after scandals rocked the Democrats in Richmond. For a visual, check out the Virginia Public Access Project.

The fallout is not limited to fundraising. Governor Northam’s office announced yesterdaythat he is backing out of his scheduled speech for the Virginia Military Institute commencement this spring.

Finally, we are one week away from the County Board’s approval of next year’s budget, including what is almost certain to be a sizeable tax hike and multiple fee increases.

Also of note on the packed April meeting agenda:

  • $11.5 million subsidyto keep the Drug Enforcement Agency offices in Arlington.
  • Pay raises for county staff. The Board report for this item is currently unavailable, so we do not yet know what the raises will be.
  • Advertising public hearingson the modification of accessory dwelling unit (ADU) regulations.
  • Renaming the portion of Route 1 in Arlington from Jefferson Davis Highway to Richmond Highway.

Mark Kelly is a 19-year Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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