Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Amazon’s Offices Will Be Dog-Friendly — Amazon’s new “HQ2” offices in the Crystal City area will be dog-friendly, its head of economic development said at an event yesterday. Property owner JBG Smith wooed Amazon, in part, by making sure there were lots of dogs around during Amazon’s visit to the area. [Bisnow]

HQ2 Still Not a Certainty — “While there aren’t any signs Amazon.com Inc. plans to walk away from National Landing after abandoning Long Island City, the company’s future landlord and development partner warned Tuesday that HQ2 is still just an agreement in principle, not a done deal.” [Washington Business Journal]

Autonomous Vehicles in Ballston? — “In collaboration with the Ballston Business Improvement District, [a Virginia Tech] research team is seeking current public attitudes towards [self-driving vehicles] in Ballston through an online survey.” [Virginia Tech]

Arlington Gets ‘Love’ Tourism Grant — “The Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS) announced today that it has received a $10,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) ’50 Years of Love’ grant fund. ’50 Years of Love’ is part of VTC’s efforts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Virginia is for Lovers tourism slogan.” [Arlington County]

Marymount Names New Provost — “Marymount is pleased to announce that the search process for its new provost has drawn to a successful conclusion. From a distinguished national pool, the University has selected Hesham El-Rewini, Ph.D., P.E. as the newest member of the Marymount team.” [Marymount University]

Beyer on Bryce — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) quoted Star Wars upon new of now-former Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper signing with the Phillies: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Hope: No Impeachment Filing Yet Updated at 9:50 a.m. — Del. Patrick Hope (D) says he’s delaying filing articles of impeachment against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who is facing two accusations of past sexual assaults. “An enormous amount of sincere and thoughtful feedback… has led to additional conversations that need to take place,” Hope said. [Twitter, TwitterTwitter]

More Trailers for Arlington Tech — “Students coming into the Arlington Tech program at the Arlington Career Center for the next two years may find themselves spending more time in trailers than they had thought, and more time than School Board members are happy about.” [InsideNova]

Auction for Restaurant Items — The former furnishings of now-shuttered Rolls By U are up for auction by Arlington County, to help pay its overdue tax bill. [Arlington County]

Car vs. Columbia Pike Restaurant — It appears that a car ran into the front of Andy’s Carry Out restaurant on Columbia Pike. [Twitter]

State Split on Northam’s Fate — “Virginians are deadlocked over whether Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should step down after the emergence of a photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page depicting people in blackface and Ku Klux Klan garb, with African Americans saying by a wide margin that he should remain in office despite the offensive image, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.” [Washington Post]

Beyer on Face the Nation — “Democratic Virginia Reps. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton renewed their calls for Gov. Ralph Northam and Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax to step down over their respective controversies” on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday morning. [CBS News]

Local Chef on CBS This Morning — Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse made an extended appearance on CBS This Morning Saturday, talking about his food, his restaurants and how his aunt inspired his love of cooking. [CBS News]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

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Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) and other D.C.-area lawmakers are pressing for a new study of helicopter noise in the area, a persistent concern for many Arlingtonians living near the county’s copious military installations.

Beyer and four of his Democratic colleagues sent a letter to the head of the Government Accountability Office Monday (Jan. 28) calling for an examination of everything from which helicopters tend to make the most noise to which neighborhoods military aircraft pass over most frequently.

“Many of our constituents live with the impacts of regular helicopter noise that interrupts sleep patterns, causes their homes to shake and negatively impacts their quality of life,” the members of Congress wrote. “While disturbances from helicopter noise have been a longstanding problem for some, others have noted recent increases in the frequency and severity of helicopter noise in their neighborhoods.”

Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and David Trone (D-Md.) joined Beyer in writing the letter.

In all, they argue that “information collection, analysis and coordination” will help lawmakers “identify strategies to minimize the negative impacts of helicopter activity without impeding the work of the agencies operating helicopters within the region.”

Other points they’d like to see the agency investigate include “the frequency of flights over neighborhoods, including information on each agency operating helicopters, the times of flight and flight altitude; the number of flights that occur during the day and at night” and “the altitude at which helicopters currently fly within the Washington metropolitan area today compared to the altitude at which helicopters operated within the Washington metropolitan area in the past.”

The lawmakers are also looking to learn more about “degree of coordination that currently exists among the various government and non-governmental entities operating helicopters” in the region, in order to improve efforts to cut back on noise. Beyer has previously proposed similar efforts aimed at increasing that collaboration, including a “working group” that would’ve included both local officials and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense.

Beyer has certainly raised the issue plenty of times since winning office for the first time in 2014, and has also pressured the DOD to pursue other studies of helicopter noise, or even to simply fly its helicopters at higher altitudes to reduce noise complaints.

However, many of those efforts have been stymied by Republican leaders, who have long controlled the House of Representatives — Beyer is cautiously optimistic that the new Democratic majority will be more sympathetic to his concerns.

Beyer and his colleagues are hoping to get an answer on this latest request for a study within the next month or so.

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman

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Morning Notes

A Wall that Divided Arlington Still Stands — “The wall was erected in a section of Arlington County in the 1930s to separate black residents from white residents. And for decades, it did just that. It kept segregation intact by creating a physical barrier between an ‘us’ and a ‘them.'” [Washington Post]

Coming Soon: Happy Hour Advertising? — “A lawsuit filed against the state by a Northern Virginia restaurateur could be the motivation the General Assembly needs to change laws that restrict happy hour advertising.” [Virginia Mercury]

Demand for Free Pet Food Rises — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington says it has seen an increase in demand for its free pet food pantry during the government shutdown. [Twitter]

Resources for Furloughed Feds — Congressman Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) office has compiled a list of resources for those affected by the federal government shutdown. [Rep. Don Beyer]

Anti-NIMBY Legislation Proposed in Va. — “[Del. Jeff] Bourne and Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, are pursuing legislation in the General Assembly this year that would explicitly prohibit local governments from denying permits for housing developments because of the expected race or income levels of the residents.” [Virginia Mercury]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) is planning a town hall in Arlington tonight (Thursday), in order to collect feedback on everything from the government shutdown to his plans for the new Congress.

Beyer’s set to hold the gathering at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd) tonight, running from 7-8:30 p.m. Though Arlington Public Schools have since canceled all after-school activities due to the threat of winter weather tonight, a spokesman for Beyer says the event is still on.

The county’s lone congressman convened the gathering to “discuss the issues on your mind, and what I’m doing in Congress,” according to an event posting.

The shutdown, now the longest in the country’s history, will likely be a prime topic of discussion, especially considering the adverse economic impacts it has had on so many federal workers in the district. A recent study found that the 8th, which covers Arlington and parts of Alexandria, has the largest number of federal employees in the country.

Beyer will also be able to use the town hall as a chance to solicit feedback on his plans in Congress for the next two years, as Democrats assume control of the House for the first time since Beyer won office in 2014.

He previously told ARLnow that he broadly hopes to focus on environmental issues, particularly oversight of President Trump’s picks to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and on securing new funding to combat aircraft noise around Arlington.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Spike Mendelsohn Planning New Restaurants in Crystal City — “Already in National Landing with Good Stuff Eatery and We, The Pizza, Mendelsohn has a letter of interest out for two new spaces. One will bring his Mexican taco shop already on Capitol Hill, Santa Rosa, to Virginia. Another is a new concept: fried chicken.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Shutdown May Fry Local Economy — “Come February — perhaps by the beginning of the month, probably the middle and definitely by the end — the financial, occupational and psychological impact of this now-record government shutdown will go from the theoretical to the very, very real.” [Washington Business Journal]

Trump Signs Shutdown Backpay Bill — President Trump has signed a bill championed by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) that will provide backpay to federal employees affected by the government shutdown. Now Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are working to provide a similar guarantee for low-wage federal contractors. [Federal News Network]

JBG’s ‘Brutally Honest’ Amazon Pitch — A quote attributed to JBG Smith Chief Development Officer Kai Reynolds, talking about his pitch to Amazon’s HQ2 team: “So we literally sat down at 8 in the morning, and I started the presentation by saying ‘I’ve lived [in this region] a number of years, I had never been [to Crystal City]. While it’s better than I thought, it’s kind of a shithole.'” [Bisnow]

Snow May Disrupt Evening Commute — “The main band of snow is likely to come through during the evening and overnight hours. As the onset of snow may coincide with the evening commute, especially in our western areas, build in extra time to get home or consider leaving a little early to beat the rush. Some slick spots could develop, especially on untreated roads.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

Nearby: Attempted Kidnapping in Georgetown — “As she neared her front door about 5 p.m. Tuesday, a woman grabbed the child from behind and tried to abduct her, D.C. police said. The girl fought back and broke free. The nanny in the car screamed, and the woman ran.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Housing and the County Budget — A new Greater Greater Washington article explores ways to add new housing at a time when Arlington County is facing a serious budget gap. [GGW]

Trails Treacherous for Cyclists — Despite efforts to plow local trails, many stretches in Arlington were still icy or snow-covered yesterday. [Twitter]

Police Warn About Phone Scam — “The Arlington County Police Department is warning the public about a fundraising phone scam targeting County residents. Residents have contacted the police department after receiving unsolicited phone calls from individual(s) claiming to be with the Arlington County Police Department and requesting donations to benefit the disabled and underprivileged children.” [Arlington County]

Fraser Among Those Called By Scammers — Arlington resident and local media personality Sarah Fraser was among those to be called by the scammers posing as ACPD. [Twitter]

A Modest Proposal for Stop Signs — “Close observation of local driving practices confirms the view that stop signs have become irrelevant, since no one obeys them. The closest drivers come is to slow and then slide through the intersection. It would be a cost-saving measure if Arlington County were to remove all its stop signs and replace them with ‘Yield’ signs.” [InsideNova]

Va. 8th District Has Most Federal Workers — “The House member with the most federal workers in his or her district is Democratic Rep. Don Beyer, whose Virginia district includes 86,900 federal workers. (Among districts with no military bases, Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly’s neighboring Virginia district has the highest number of federal workers.)” [Pew Research h/t Patricia Sullivan]

Stuck School Bus in Maywood — “#ArlingtonVA school bus stuck this am on N Fillmore St & 23rd St. N 3 days *AFTER* the snow! This hill on Fillmore is NEVER timely plowed or cleared. Do not put children at risk! Can @ArlingtonVA please clear this street.” [Twitter]

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As President Trump weighs the extraordinary step of declaring a national emergency to unilaterally build a wall along the southern border, Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) is urging Trump to return to the negotiating table and put federal employees back to work.

Like any member of Congress representing the D.C. suburbs, Beyer is no great fan of government shutdowns, which threaten the livelihoods of thousands of constituents in his Arlington and Alexandria-area district. But this latest, 18-day shutdown (now the second longest in the country’s history) is testing Beyer’s patience more than most.

He can’t understand what Trump hopes to achieve with his demands for $5.7 billion to build a wall on the Mexican border, or why he’s worked with Congressional Republicans to shutter the government while this latest immigration debate plays out. Unlike some of his Democratic colleagues, Beyer feels there’s room to negotiate on the issue — but he remains puzzled by the president’s refusal to engage on the matter.

“I know Donald Trump didn’t write the ‘Art of the Deal,’ but he may not have read it either,” Beyer told ARLnow. “I don’t think Democrats are against spending $5 billion more on border security, but let’s work hard on the language to make sure it turns into something that actually makes a difference, rather than something that’s a campaign symbol… Maybe I spent too many years as an auto dealer, but I’m always looking for a win-win scenario.”

Beyer believes that Democrats in Congress could well be open to reviving the outlines of a bipartisan immigration deal hashed out among leaders last year, exchanging new funding for border security for new protections for people previously protected from deportation under the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. Yet Trump and other immigration hardliners in his party scuttled that arrangement the last time Congress squared off over the issue, and Beyer doesn’t see much reason for optimism this time around.

Furthermore, Beyer sees Trump’s intimations that he could use his emergency powers as president to bypass Congress and build the wall as “frightening.” Such an effort would undoubtedly face court challenges, as experts agree that there is no migration crisis currently afflicting the country, but speculation abounds that Trump could make an emergency declaration during his televised address from the White House tonight.

“It just ratchets up the tension and dissension far more than is appropriate,” Beyer said. “If the wall was so important, why did it take two whole years into his presidency before he put it into an appropriations bill? This is no national emergency.”

But should the shutdown continue, Beyer says his newly empowered colleagues in the House plan to “make it as easy as possible to open the government back up.” Starting today (Tuesday), he says Speaker Nancy Pelosi will begin calling votes on bills to reopen one federal agency at a time.

That way, Beyer hopes that some important staffers — like those at the IRS preparing to mail out tax returns — could get back to work, even as the immigration debate drags on.

And that sort of tack would also allow many of Beyer’s constituents to start earning paychecks again.

He says he’s heard from thousands of federal workers, both in the D.C. area and around the country, who are suffering due to financial insecurity stemming from the shutdown. To that end, Beyer managed to help pass language to protect back pay for affected employees through the House, but fears Trump wouldn’t sign off on the change, even if it clears the Senate.

Beyer’s also backing efforts to secure pay for some federal contractors, as are Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (both D-Va.).

“Many people go into federal service because they cherish the idea of public service,” Beyer said. “No one does it for the money. The security is one of the small benefits. Or, at least, it used to be.”

Yet Beyer feels the shutdown is doing more than just unnecessarily squeezing his constituents — he believes its distracting Congress from other pressing priorities, particularly as Democrats regain control of the House for the first time in years.

Whenever Congress can return to normal business, Beyer thinks there is room for some agreement on bills he’s backing around issues like suicide prevention and wildlife conservation.

But he is cognizant of the fact that the Republican-controlled Senate, to say nothing of Trump’s veto pen, will limit how much he can actually pass over the next two years. That’s why he’s more enthusiastic about the new oversight powers Democrats gain now that they’re chairing House committees.

Beyer helped lead investigations into former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s conduct in office, and was one of Pruitt’s leading congressional critics before he resigned under a cloud of scandal. But Beyer is no great fan of Pruitt’s replacement, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist.

Accordingly, he sees plenty of room for more EPA oversight now that Democrats will wield expanded investigatory power, though he did sound a note of caution on the topic.

“It’s really important that oversight be genuine oversight, focused on things not going well in the executive branch rather than political witch hunts,” Beyer said. “There are lots of legitimate, responsible things we can do in oversight to just make America a better country, and we can do it with Republicans.”

Pelosi and other Democratic leaders will also command more control over the federal budget, and that gives Beyer hope for progress on one of his other big priorities: solving the vexing problem of aircraft noise in Arlington.

Beyer previously proposed budget amendments directing the Federal Aviation Administration to tinker with the flight paths of military helicopters and create a new website to allow people to report aircraft noise complaints. Yet both of those failed to gain any traction under Republican leadership, and he’s holding out hope to make progress on these “two good legislative investments” in the coming months.

“With people like [Majority Leader and Maryland Rep.] Steny Hoyer in control, he’s a D.C. resident, I’m much more optimistic that we will the have power to make a difference on this,” Beyer said.

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Candidate Essay: Don Beyer

Last week, we asked the two candidates for Virginia’s 8th District in Congress, covering Arlington and Alexandria, to write a sub-750 word essay on why the county’s residents should vote for them on Nov. 6.

Here is the unedited response from Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District):

Going to work to represent the people of Virginia’s 8th is a wonderful responsibility, and I thank you for twice electing me to the US House. I ask again for your vote again on November 6th.

Now, the Democrats in the House of Representatives are in a significant minority. We have neither the White House nor the Senate, so our work has been to defend the policies we value, fight destructive proposals from the Trump White House, and lay out the agenda we want to enact once in the majority.

My staff and I read the tens of thousands of letters I receive annually from this highly educated constituency, and I work — as much as possible in a bipartisan way — to lay the groundwork for what northern Virginians and I believe we must accomplish. These policies and ideas are many. Allow me to briefly mention four.

***********************************************

I am a leader on environmental protections, including climate change, clean water, and endangered species, to name just a few. In my roles on the Natural Resources  and Science, Space, and Technology Committees, I defend against oil and gas drilling in our federal waters, advocate for outdoor recreation and protecting America’s national parks, and work to mobilize advanced energy technologies that can transition our economy to a carbon-neutral future.

I work for an end to bigotry and for progress on civil rights. Discrimination on the basis of someone’s nation of origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or any other quality is intolerable. This is fundamental to American ideals, and we must return to an age of fairness and civility. I introduced the Freedom of Religion Act, to prohibit religious litmus tests as a way of banning immigrants or refugees, and I also introduced legislation to improve the reporting of hate crimes.

The entire Democratic caucus works to protect the Affordable Care Act, a critical piece of progress in our nation’s health care, one that moved millions of Americans from uninsured to insured. I voted against every effort by the Republican caucus to repeal or dismantle this law. And I will continue to work for universal health care.

Finally, we must work to shape the new American economy, one that regenerates our middle class and fosters economic mobility. This includes paid family leave, improved and affordable public education, comprehensive immigration reform, an increase in minimum and tipped wages, affordable housing, and infrastructure investment.

**************************************************

Our country is facing some extraordinary challenges. There are few northern Virginians who can say with candor that they are satisfied with the leadership of our nation – that it represents our best values or who we strive to be. I have been part of campaigns and American democratic life for decades, and this is perhaps the most fraught but also the most engaged I have ever seen the electorate. People are stepping up, raising their hands, rolling up their sleeves, and working to redefine this nation. I am certain that collectively we will change the current course of history and turn it in a positive direction, starting on November 6th.

It is easy to get discouraged about the present state of our country. But we have pulled ourselves together before. Our parents did it in World War II. Young people in Florida and elsewhere are doing it right now against hatred and gun violence. In fact, Virginians did it last year at the polls, putting a record number of women and people of color in the state legislature.

Please do everything you can to work for our young democracy, and please send me back to Congress so that I, too, can continue this work.

My background as lieutenant governor, a successful businessman, an ambassador, and a husband and father — as well as my four years as a Congressman — enable me to serve you well and I ask for your vote.

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Read through Thomas Oh’s campaign platform too quickly, and you might come away with the impression he’s a Democrat.

Consider that he supports efforts to combat climate change, he backs some gun control measures and he’s refused to accept any money from Virginia’s electric utility companies or from political action committees, a series of positions favored by most on the left in this day and age.

But Oh, of course, is the Republican nominee hoping to unseat Democratic Rep. Don Beyer this year in the 8th District, which includes Arlington and parts of Alexandria.

Oh faces the longest of long odds, considering that the district last elected a Republican back in 1988 and voters have twice sent Beyer to Congress with margins of victory larger than 30 percent. With good reason, Beyer, once Virginia’s lieutenant governor and the owner of several local car dealerships, is widely seen as one of the safest members of Congress in the entire country.

Regardless of his chances, however, Oh’s candidacy presents an interesting question for Republicans around the state, and around the country. In an increasingly conservative GOP, led by a combative president, is there room for a moderate Republican like Oh?

“You can pet the base and make them like you, just keep saying you’re pro-life, you love the Second Amendment and the base will love you,” Oh told ARLnow. “Or you can try your best to win it and piss a lot of your base off by trying to be in the middle of the road… but someone needs to do it, otherwise we’ll continue going down this road we’re on.”

Oh is hoping that embracing some positions running against the party platform will win him votes from independents, Republicans and even some Democrats looking for a change. But he notes that his views have frustrated plenty of hard-core Republicans, and he hasn’t exactly attracted an outpouring of support from traditional GOP groups and donors — the National Rifle Association’s political arm has refused to endorse him, and Oh says he hasn’t had much in the way of support from either the state Republican party or the National Republican Campaign Committee.

It doesn’t help matters either that Oh is on the ticket with Corey Stewart, the party’s nominee against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has attracted scorn from all corners for his tirades against undocumented immigrants and his embrace of Confederate symbols and white nationalists.

It all adds up to an unusual fit for Oh, as he tries to present a moderate, more libertarian vision in the deep blue district, while the rest of the party moves sharply in the other direction.

“He may not be likely to win a statewide Republican primary, but it’s been a while since Republicans have won a statewide election,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. “Presenting the party as an aggressive, conservative voice isn’t leading to success… so it does seem the Republican party is going to have to do some redefining to be competitive, and this candidate may be the shape of things to come.”

The 26-year-old Alexandria resident certainly hopes so.

Oh says he decided to run for office in the first place because he wanted to “do something, rather than just complain about our problems.” He grew up in Northern Virginia, graduated from Centreville High School and joined the Army right out of school. He earned his degree from George Mason University, and ultimately moved back to the area as a federal contractor.

Most of Oh’s positions are familiar ones among traditional Northern Virginia Republicans. He worries the federal deficit is too high, he wants to cut taxes and address Metro’s rising costs by confronting expenses generated by its labor union.

His arguments are also mirror those made by most long-shot challengers to entrenched incumbents — he claims that Beyer “takes the seat for granted” and has been unresponsive to constituent concerns, particularly those of veterans. In a statement, Beyer forcefully pushed back against the latter notion, calling it “absurd” and noting his office has taken on more than 400 veterans’ cases during his time in Congress.

Where Oh diverges a bit more from Republican orthodoxy is on guns — he supports modest gun safety measures and, like Beyer, has earned a “gun sense candidate” distinction from the advocacy group Moms Demand Action — and the environment.

He not only supports investments in renewable energy, but he’s refused to accept any money from Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power, the state-regulated electric monopolies who have long been the state’s most generous political contributors. The group “Activate Virginia” began asking candidates to swear off such contributions last year in order to encourage politicians to be more skeptical of their interests, and Executive Director Josh Stanfield says Oh is the only Republican to have taken his group’s pledge.

“Dominion has been buying Democrats and Republicans for years,” Oh said. “My opponent talks about climate change all the time, but you can’t take money from Dominion Energy.”

Records show that Dominion’s PAC has given Beyer $16,500 over the course of his three campaigns, and Stanfield notes that his request that Beyer sign the anti-fossil fuel money pledge was “apparently not worthy of a response.”

But Beyer points out that Oh is taking an unusual tack by impugning his credentials on the environment. Beyer has been especially vocal on climate change, even introducing carbon tax legislation, and he was a leading voice in calling for the resignation of former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“If the assumption is that financial support from utility companies (many of which have significant clean energy portfolios, by the way) means that I’ve been bought, well, those companies aren’t getting very much for their money,” Beyer wrote.

But Oh sees Beyer’s decision to accept that cash as hypocritical, and he believes people appreciate his stance as a “political outsider” willing to take a strong stance on such issues.

It’s certainly put him at odds with Stewart, who is also skeptical of Dominion contributions, but disagrees with Oh on just about every issue. Oh says he doesn’t worry too much about that split, noting that he’s “running my own campaign, more towards my own philosophy.” The Arlington County Republican Committee has also campaigned for both Oh and Stewart, despite their differences.

But has the state GOP and the NRCC, the chief fundraising arm of the party’s congressional leadership, come in to help him out? As Oh puts it, “not so much.”

For his part, Virginia Republican Party Spokesman John March insists that the GOP “is a big-tent party and we make room for everyone who supports limited government and lower taxes,” and he pushes back on any implication that the party has been anything less than fully supportive of Oh.

Yet Oh’s campaign finance reports make it clear that he hasn’t exactly benefited financially from institutional support — outside of a $5,500 donation from the 8th District Republican Committee, Oh hasn’t gotten much in the way of cash from Republican groups to power his campaign. Oh himself has lent the campaign $5,000, and only reported taking in about $56,000 in contributions. Beyer, by contrast, has raised more than $1.9 million to support his re-election bid.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Farnsworth doesn’t see much chance of success for Oh. He points out that Oh would need some sort of major scandal involving Beyer to have a chance — none have been forthcoming — or a “generous national environment.” However, Farnsworth notes that Donald Trump has “generated extraordinary hostility in the suburbs,” making Oh’s task ever more difficult, regardless of his moderation.

“But sometimes what elections can do is get you noticed,” Farnsworth said. “You run for state legislature, get a job in an administration, move to a more favorable district. Any of these things might happen.”

Oh wouldn’t say whether where his ambitions might lie should he lose on Nov. 6, saying he’s learned to “focus on what’s in front of you.” Considering his reluctance to toe the party line, however, he stresses that he’s not taking on this quixotic bid for his own selfish reasons.

“I don’t have an ulterior motive, I’m just here to do it,” Oh said. “I just want to do something to help the community.”

Photo via Facebook

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Elections around Arlington may not attract the sort of expensive TV ads that have come to dominate local stations ahead of the midterm elections, but candidates around the county have shelled out thousands to bring their messages to Facebook.

An ARLnow analysis of the social media site’s political ad database shows that Arlington’s six candidates for Congress and local office on the ballot this fall have combined with the county’s party committees to buy 549 Facebook ads from Jan. 1 through today (Oct. 29).

Thomas Oh, the Republican mounting a longshot bid to unseat Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District), led the way among the county’s candidates, buying 100 ads on the site since launching his campaign in February. According to campaign finance reports, he shelled out about $2,100 to pay for those posts.

But Oh was far from the bigger user of Facebook ads in Arlington — that distinction belongs to the Arlington Young Democrats, who have purchased 270 ads on the platform over the course of the year. The Arlington County Democratic Committee wasn’t far behind, buying 91 ads.

The county’s candidates for local office have relied on social media advertising a bit less, but have still used Facebook to reach thousands of potential voters.

In the lone race for a County Board seat this year, pitting independent incumbent John Vihstadt against Democrat Matt de Ferranti, the challenger has run a bit more Facebook ads so far.

According to Facebook’s database, de Ferranti has run 34 ads on the platform since launching his campaign in January. Records show he’s spent nearly $1,900 on Facebook ads in all, though campaign finance documents only detail spending through end of September — candidates will release their final reports of the campaign later this week.

Of the Democrat’s ads, 19 ran in the run-up to his primary victory over Chanda Choun in June, with 15 reserved for the general election contest with Vihstadt. In general, de Ferranti’s ad buys have each been less than $100 each, with only seven falling in the range of $100 to $500 — Facebook only provides ranges, not specific numbers, for spending and traffic figures.

Two of de Ferranti’s ads picked up between 50,000 and 100,000 impressions, while two others range between 10,000 and 50,000.

By contrast, Vihstadt has only run 10 ads on Facebook so far. His current campaign finance reports only show him spending about $100 on the posts, but he’s ramped up his activity on Facebook in October, meaning his spending will be reflected in the next set of reports.

However, Facebook’s database shows that the incumbent has recorded four ad buys of $100 or more, and one of more than $500, in all. He’s also had two ads reach between 50,000 and 100,000 impressions and two more range between 10,000 and 50,000.

Notably, Vihstadt has also turned to television advertising, and recently started running a single ad on local cable stations.

In the contest for the only School Board seat on the ballot, independent (and frequent candidate) Audrey Clement has outpaced incumbent Barbara Kanninen, who has the endorsement of local Democrats in the nominally nonpartisan race.

Clement has run 32 ads this year, spending about $1,520, according to campaign finance reports. She’s only spent more than $100 on three separate ad buys, but she’s still managed to reach plenty of people. Eight of her ads have secured between 5,000 and 10,000 and impressions, while two have managed between 10,000 and 50,000.

Kanninen has run just 12 ads, by comparison, sending about $241 to Facebook in all. Her ads have been viewed a bit less, with three ranging between 1,000 and 5,000 impressions and one making it to the 5,000 to 10,000 range.

Beyer appears not to have a run single ad on Facebook, despite raising more than $1.9 million over the course of his bid for a third term in Congress. However, he has benefitted from plenty of ads touting his candidacy from the local Democratic committee and the Young Democrats.

Oh faces quite the uphill battle to best Beyer, considering that the 8th (covering all of Arlington and parts of Alexandria) is among the safest districts for Democrats in the country. But the first-time candidate has managed to attract some attention to his Facebook ads at least, with four attracting between 10,000 and 50,000 impressions and seven attracting between 5,000 and 10,000. He’s spent more than $100 on seven different ad buys, which has surely helped boost those traffic numbers.

Facebook’s records don’t show any evidence of any ad spending from the county’s Republican committee, or its Green Party.

Disclosure: both Clement and Vihstadt have purchased ads on ARLnow.com. Flickr pool photo via wolfkann

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