Richard “Rip” Sullivan (D) is the newest member of the state General Assembly after soundly defeating Republican Dave Foster in tonight’s special election.
Sullivan won 62.21 percent of the vote, not counting provisional ballots, and captured 3,934 of 6,277 votes cast in Arlington. Sullivan will replace Del. Bob Brink, who resigned in June, representing the easternmost parts of Arlington and the McLean area of Fairfax County.
The election was scheduled for tonight by House of Delegates Speaker William Howell, a move Sullivan panned during his campaign — and did again in his victory speech at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Clarendon — as an attempt to get low voter turnout in the Democratic-leaning district. Brink, who was there to congratulate Sullivan, said he was “surprised” at Howell’s decision.
“Rip showed you can’t game the system,” Brink told ARLnow.com. “I think he’s going to do a tremendous job. He’s shown he is a thoughtful legislator who can get things done. I think he’s going to be great.”
Sullivan credited his team for leading a successful campaign — two campaigns within eight weeks, he pointed out, after winning the Democratic “firehouse” primary in early July — and the district’s voters for supporting him despite the unusual election timing. According to Arlington General Registrar Linda Lindberg, it’s the first general election Arlington has had in August in at least 20 years, and she said she couldn’t find record of any August election before that.
During the campaigns, Sullivan focused primarily on social issues, such as women’s reproductive rights, and on expanding Medicaid. Foster’s campaign hinged largely on his opposition to the streetcar, while hoping his education experience — he was a two-time chair of the Arlington School Board and the head of the Virginia Board of Education under former Gov. Bob McDonnell — would garner some swing votes.
“I had great faith and confidence in the voters of the 48th District,” Sullivan said. “I knew they would care about more than one issue. I wanted to talk about all of the issues and I think that resonated with voters. They knew what they were getting with me.”
Brink retired after being appointed Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services for Virginia. Sullivan said Brink, known in Richmond as a dealmaker, has offered guidance.
“Bob was highly regarded for his intellect and demeanor,” Sullivan said. “I expect to rely on him and consult him regularly. I hope to follow in his footsteps as someone people can trust and work with.”
Sullivan is an attorney and a partner at Reed Smith in Washington, D.C., and serves as an adjunct professor at the George Mason University law school. He lives in McLean with his wife, Beth, and the two have four children.
The election is between Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican Dave Foster, two attorneys who have had to throw together campaigns in less than two months after Brink announced his resignation on June 27.
According to Arlington General Registrar Linda Lindberg, her office has already received about 1,000 ballots, which is more than the total number of absentee ballots cast in the county for the June Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District seat. Lindberg theorized that the numbers are inflated because so many people will be out of town tomorrow, but was still surprised at the volume.
“What’s really significant is when you consider the June primary was the entire County, but this election is only 13 precincts,” Lindberg told ARLnow.com in an email today. “We expected our numbers to be comparable to the primary for the precincts involved, not to necessarily exceed them. So in that respect, yes, absentee turnout has exceeded expectations… The numbers are clearly a reflection of the work the campaigns have done to get out the vote.”
Each candidate took time away from campaigning this afternoon to speak with ARLnow.com, and both said they felt good about their chances tomorrow.
“We have overcome, I think, quite well what I have viewed as a trap election,” Sullivan said, referring to House of Delegates Speaker William Howell’s decision to hold the election so soon after the seat was vacated. “[Howell] opted to set it on this fast track, I think knowing a lot of people would be out of town on vacation or taking their kids to college… I think we’ve done a nice job in putting a full-scale professional campaign into six short weeks, and we feel real good about our chances.”
Sullivan said voters told him their priorities in the election were expanding Medicaid in the state and the state’s economic circumstances, particularly after Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia is facing a $2.4 billion shortfall in the budget next year.
“It’s certainly a bigger shortfall than anyone would want,” Sullivan said. “I was talking at the debate (Aug. 5) about how Virginia, and Northern Virginia particularly, needs to focus like a laser on diversifying our economy and weaning off a dependence on federal dollars.”
Foster said the voters he’s spoken to have told him they oppose the Columbia Pike streetcar. He said if he’s elected, he will push for a referendum and explore funneling $160 million-plus in potential state transportation funding away from the streetcar. He also said the voters “know me” from his former tenure on the Arlington School Board.
“The voters appreciate my record of service on education issues in particular,” Foster said. “Arlingtonians know me not simply as a Republican, but as someone who knows how to work on a bipartisan, pragmatic basis to get things done.”
Foster noted that Sullivan’s campaign received a $35,000 donation from the Democratic Party of Virginia last week, a sign, he said, that they believe Republicans have a chance to win the Democrat-leaning district. In all, Sullivan has raised more than $165,000, according to the latest data from the State Board of Elections. Foster has raised just over $100,000.
“We’re definitely in the hunt,” Foster said. “We think we have him on the ropes.”
Polling places will open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow. The State Board of Elections allows you to double-check your polling place online. The 48th District runs along the Potomac River from Crystal City to Rosslyn and Clarendon and includes the McLean area of Fairfax County.
Here is Republican Dave Foster’s unedited response:
I have demonstrated as a two-term chairman of the Arlington School Board and President of the state board of education that my problem-solving, consensus-building style gets results for our citizens. We need effective bipartisan representation in Richmond to address the Arlington streetcar, Medicaid, schools, the state’s economy, and the many other pressing issues we face. I will be that voice for the citizens of the 48th District.
I have been married for 33 years to Martha Tyahla Foster, of McLean. Our two children attended Arlington and Fairfax public schools and graduated from Virginia universities. I was President of the Arlington County Civic Federation and involved in numerous other community nonprofits, advisory committees, and PTA’s. It is my concern for the welfare of our community that led me to seek the office of Arlington School Board and the same concern motivates me to seek the office of House of Delegates.
I am concerned, as you are, about having a balanced, rational approach to transportation issues in our area. Unlike my opponent, I oppose the Arlington Streetcar proposal because it is neither practical nor affordable and will consume up to $164 million in state transportation funds that could be better used elsewhere. Roads and Metro, schools and tax relief are far more important to Northern Virginians than this ill-considered project, which will not only require an initial investment of over $500 million but also an annual operating subsidy of several million dollars. If elected, I will introduce legislation to create a public referendum on the streetcar proposal so that taxpayers can have a voice in this decision just as they do on local bond proposals.
As a two-term Chairman of the Arlington School Board and former President of the Virginia Board of Education, I have worked for lower class sizes, improved school safety, enhanced foreign language offerings (Mandarin and Arabic), Virginia’s “No Child Left Behind” waiver, improved Standards of Learning (SOLs), and many other shared priorities. I would like to continue to my work to strengthen our public schools as your Delegate in Richmond. We must protect the cost-of-competing adjustment to state funding that recognizes the higher cost of providing high-quality education in Northern Virginia. We should also give our school boards increased local control over public school calendars and budgets. I know from leading both the Arlington School Board and the state board how critical adequate funding and local decision making are to our schools.
We must once again make Virginia the best place to start, expand, or relocate a business. I will protect our right to work law and oppose mandatory project agreements of the kind that almost derailed the Silver Line Metrorail. I will also resist the imposition of costly and unwarranted state regulatory mandates that duplicate federal mandates. Building upon the transportation package passed by the last General Assembly, with a focus on projects that reduce congestion, improve safety, and spur economic development, is also a priority.
Because I am the most experienced and effective candidate, I ask for your vote on August 19th.
Candidates Push for Streetcar Referendum — Both Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican David Foster promise to introduce legislation in Richmond to allow Arlington residents to vote on the Columbia Pike streetcar. Last month, Arlington County Board members said they do not have the authority to put such a referendum on the ballot. Even if the measure would pass through the General Assembly and were approved by Gov. McAuliffe, it likely wouldn’t take effect until July 2015. [InsideNova]
Politico Moving in Rosslyn — Politico is leaving the space it shared with WJLA and NewsChannel 8 at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, but it’s not moving far. The publication has signed a long term lease at 1000 Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]
McCoskrie Lands Falls Church City Attorney Position — Carol McCoskrie, Arlington’s former Assistant County Attorney, has been approved as the new City Attorney for the City of Falls Church. McCoskrie spent 24 years working for Arlington County, mostly focusing on land use and development. [City of Falls Church]
Last Days for APAH School Supply Drive — There are only two days left to help the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing with its backpack and school supply drive, which benefits Arlington children in need. APAH will accept donations of new supplies like pencils, glue, backpacks, scissors and erasers at its office at 2704 N. Pershing Drive until Friday (August 15). [APAH]
Dems Back Special Election Candidates — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Democratic Committee formally nominated Carla de la Pava for treasurer and endorsed Nancy Van Doren for School Board. Both candidates are running in special elections to take place at the same time as the November 4 general election. [InsideNova]
Possible Attempt to Resurrect Arlington’s Tourism Tax — Two candidates looking to fill the seat of Del. Bob Brink both said at a recent debate that they would introduce legislation to bring back Arlington’s tourism surtax on hotel bills. Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican David Foster both favor the tax, which had been in place for 21 years until it lapsed in 2011, due to anger over the County Board suing the state and federal governments over high occupancy toll lanes. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Wins Axe Throwing Competition — Arlington resident Christopher R. Miller won the 2014 Lizzie Borden Axe Throwing competition in Falls Church. He is the brother-in-law of last year’s winner. [Falls Church News-Press]
‘Republican’ Not Found on GOP Candidate’s Signs — Republican candidate Dave Foster, who’s running to represent the 48th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, has a notable addition and omission on his campaign signs. Foster’s signs include a union label, but do not include the word “Republican.” Foster will face Democrat Rip Sullivan in a special election on Aug. 19. [InsideNova]
Arlington Transportation ‘What Ifs’ — Three shelved transportation proposals could have had a big impact on Arlington over the past 50 years. One would have seen a new 22-mile Blue Line built through Arlington, under the Potomac via a new tunnel, to Georgetown and eventually to RFK stadium. Another would have converted Route 1 through Crystal City to “Interstate 595.” A third would have built a new bridge from Spout Run Parkway to Georgetown. [Washington Post]
Clarendon ‘Good Morning Guy’ Profiled — Robert Gordon, the Express newspaper distributor who excitedly wishes Metrorail commuters in Clarendon a good morning on weekdays, says his is “the best job I can ever have in the world.” [WJLA]
Blues and Brews in Crystal City Tonight — Clarence “Bluesman” Turner is scheduled to perform in Crystal City tonight for the monthly summer “Blues and Brews” concert. The event, in the courtyard of 2121 Crystal Drive, also features a craft beer garden. [Crystal City]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Nominees for the 48th district House of Delegates seat, Republican Dave Foster and Democrat Rip Sullivan, plan to debate at George Mason University’s Arlington campus Aug. 11 prior to the special election Aug. 19.
“I am pleased that even in the short time afforded by this special election, we will be able to discuss the issues,” Foster said in a press release yesterday.
Sullivan, a former Fairfax Transportation Advisory Commission member and Fairfax County resident and partner at Reed Smith law firm, called for a debate soon after he defeated six other candidates in the Democratic caucus on Sunday.
“I’m an issues-oriented guy, which is why I’ve served on boards and commissions dealing with housing, education, transportation, and legal policy over the last 25 years,” Sullivan said in a press release. “I look forward to a substantive debate where we can talk about the issues we’ll face in Richmond.”
Sullivan opposes widening I-66 inside the beltway and will try to “incentivize use of public transportation and expand mass-transit opportunities” if elected, according to his website. He supports Medicaid expansion in Virginia, increased gun control and reproductive health rights for women.
Foster is opposed to the Columbia Pike streetcar, and if elected, would spearhead a public referendum to end the project that he called “impractical and unaffordable.” Foster also “pledged to work for a solution to the Medicaid expansion controversy that has roiled Richmond this year,” according to his website. As a former Arlington School Board member, he said he supports “adequate funding and local decision making” for Arlington schools. Sullivan said on his website that he wants to “tackle the issues of overcrowding and larger class sizes currently facing Arlington.”
After the sudden resignation of Del. Bob Brink (D-48), who retired last month to serve as Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services, Sullivan received more votes than six other Democratic nominees in the “firehouse” primary. Foster was the only Republican to run for the open seat.
In addition to the Arlington debate, another debate between Foster and Sullivan is scheduled to take place at the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce on the morning of Aug. 5.