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Morning Notes

APS Adds Non-Binary Gender Option — “This school year, Arlington Public Schools added a new question on its form for students to indicate a designated gender, including male, female and ‘X.'” [DCist]

ACPD Has New Electronic Sign — “You may see a new electronic signboard around @ArlingtonVA thanks to JAG grant funds provided through the @TheJusticeDept! These signboards help ACPD share important public safety messaging around school zones, events and campaigns… The signboards also display motorists speed so remember to slow down and obey posted speed limits.” [Twitter]

Leak Prompts Early Morning Road Closure — “A water leak has been repaired after causing early morning traffic problems Wednesday in Arlington. The leak was reported along S. Arlington Ridge Road between 23rd St S. and the Interstate 395 Service road.” [Fox 5]

Jail Holds Holiday Party for Inmates’ Kids — “The Arlington County Detention Facility was transformed Tuesday night into the fictional town, Whoville, in anticipation of a few special visitors. Some children were given the opportunity to visit their incarcerated parents.” [WUSA 9]

Amazon News Roundup — Amazon is planning to bring a “Treasure Truck retail vehicle” to the D.C. area. One way to accommodate new HQ2 workers would be to upzone nearby residential neighborhoods like Aurora Highlands to the population density of Capital Hill or San Francisco’s Mission District. Prompted by Amazon’s arrival, George Mason University plans to build a new 400,000 square foot facility on its Virginia Square campus in Arlington to house the Institute for Digital Innovation, “a research enterprise for fields like data analytics, cybersecurity and defense.”

Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen

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GMU Antonin Scalia Law School is Launching a New Juris Master (JM) Degree Program

George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School is excited to announce the launch of its Juris Master (JM) degree program!

The JM degree is designed for professionals who interact with lawyers and legal issues regularly in the course of their careers. This type of program is in high demand and now offered by almost half of all tier one law schools.

“We are proud to offer the Juris Master degree program at Scalia Law School,” said Dean Henry N. Butler. “This is an opportunity for professionals to learn the law, so they will be better equipped to provide leadership in their respective fields.”

Scalia Law’s two-year part-time program will be offered at the Arlington campus, with classes starting in January.

As listed on the JM degree website, in addition to general legal research, writing and introductory law courses, JM students can select law school courses from six concentration areas:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Employment & Labor Relations
  • Financial & Commercial Services
  • Government Contracts & Regulations
  • Intellectual Property & Technology
  • National Security, Cybersecurity & Information Privacy

JM students can maintain employment schedules, while benefiting from the opportunities afforded by a tier-one law school.

There is a tuition discount for students who enroll in the JM degree program’s first year class, which will start January 14.

There is a growing base of legal services and legal knowledge required by employers and the JM degree is designed to educate students with the legal knowledge necessary for them to succeed in their chosen professions.

Applications are being accepted now. For more information about the JM degree program, please visit our website or contact Jessica L. Sartorius, Director of Juris Master (JM) degree program, at [email protected] or 703-993-8418.

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Morning Notes

GMU Arlington Building Renamed — “Founders Hall, one of two major academic buildings on George Mason University’s Arlington Campus, was officially renamed Van Metre Hall after Mason’s Board of Visitors approved the change at its Oct. 10 meeting. The board’s action recognizes the generosity of the Van Metre Companies, a major regional builder that donated 37 acres in Ashburn, Virginia, to the George Mason University Foundation.” [George Mason University]

Overturned Vehicle on Washington Blvd — Near the tail end of yesterday morning’s rush hour a vehicle flipped on its roof along Washington Blvd, between Route 50 and Clarendon. The westbound lanes of Washington Blvd were blocked for a period of time. One person suffered minor injuries. [Twitter]

County Ranks High for Resident Satisfaction — “According to Arlington’s recent Community Satisfaction Survey, 88 percent of residents surveyed are satisfied with the overall quality of County services, 38 percentage points above the national average… Arlington also rated significantly above the national average for overall quality of life — 86 percent compared with 75 percent.” [Arlington County]

Local Credit Union Merger — “Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) announced today the merger of ACFCU with the Queen of Peace Arlington Federal Credit Union (QPAFCU). The combined asset size is $325 million, with nearly 22,500 members.” The Queen of Peace Arlington FCU is located in a church in the northeast corner of the Nauck neighborhood, near the back entrance to Army Navy Country Club. [CUInsight]

Venture-Funded Company Moving to Rosslyn — “FELA, the financial education and literacy company, today announced its rebrand to LifeCents. The name LifeCents is also the company’s health and wellness app that inspires and empowers people to improve their financial health and well-being… The team will move to Rosslyn, VA, at the beginning of next year to accommodate its continued growth.” [BusinessWire via Potomac Tech Wire]

Arlington Has Nightlife Advantage Over Tysons — Despite worries about competition from Tysons among local economic development boosters, the Fairfax County community doesn’t yet have Arlington’s nighttime vibrancy. Said one Tysons bar owner: “A lot of people leave here. They’re done with their job at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and they go home. They don’t come back. If they want to go out, they go to Arlington.” [Tysons Reporter]

Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick

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Beyer Convenes Fourth ‘Women’s Conference’ at GMU Saturday

Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) is gearing up to hold his fourth annual “women’s conference” Saturday (Oct. 13), with speeches planned from groundbreaking female lawmakers and activists.

Beyer has titled this year’s event “Breaking Through: Women Work for Change,” and it will run from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus (3351 Fairfax Drive).

While Beyer is set to give some opening remarks at gathering, the rest of the speakers will be women.

Del. Danica Roem, the state’s first transgender lawmaker who represents Manassas Park and parts of Prince William County, is set to deliver the event’s keynote address and discuss her work in Richmond.

Beyer will then present the “Clara Mortenson Beyer Women and Children First Award” to Naomi Wadler, an Alexandria fifth-grader who gained national notoriety for organizing protests in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting earlier this year.

Subsequent panel discussions include the following, per Beyer’s office:

Making History in Virginia with the ERA

Megan Beyer — Former executive director of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Lynda Johnson Robb —  Advocate for literacy and the eldest daughter of President Lyndon Johnson
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-2nd District)
Bettina Hager — D.C. Director and COO, ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality

Starting a Movement – Mobilizing Support and Driving Solutions

Michelle Millben – CEO and Founder, MGMC Enterprises LLC
Kim Anderson – Executive Vice President, Democracy Alliance
Jennifer Herrera – Virginia Chapter Leader, Moms Demand Action
Miriam Gennari – Environmental Advocate

Gender and the Supreme Court — Understanding the Impact on Women’s Issues

Jill Morrison — Executive Director Women’s Law & Public Policy Fellowship Georgetown University
Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza – Journalist
Emily Martin – Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice, National Women’s Law Center

The event is free to attend, though participants should register online or by calling Beyer’s district office at (703) 658-5403.

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Morning Notes

WhyHotel Coming to Columbia Pike — “WhyHotel has just signed a deal for its second project in Arlington.  WhyHotel signed on with Orr Partners to operate temporary hotel rooms in 150 of the 366 units in the Centro Arlington development… [which] is replacing the former Food Star grocery store at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.” [Bisnow]

New Scalia Statue at GMU Law School — “As debate raged on Capitol Hill over a Supreme Court nomination that could shape the court’s future for decades, five justices gathered Thursday at a law school just across the Potomac River for the unveiling of a statue honoring an icon from its recent past — the late justice Antonin Scalia.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Living Wage Calculator — According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology living wage calculator, the income required to raise three kids in a household with two working adults in Arlington County is $92,480. [MIT]

Arlington Flyover Today — There is a flyover scheduled around 1:15 p.m. today in support of a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. [Twitter]

Where to Find Singing WBJ Staffers — The Continental Beer Garden in Rosslyn and Westover Beer Garden in Westover are among the 15 best beer gardens in the D.C. area, according to the Washington Business Journal. The former is “a popular happy hour spot for WBJ staffers, who are known to sing along to the tunes playing on the outdoor speakers and share an order of pretzels and beer cheese dip.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Pet Adoptions Up — “In 2017, we did a record number of adoptions for [the Animal Welfare League of Arlington], with 1,366 pets adopted. So far this year, we have already beaten that number, with 1,450 pets adopted.” [Twitter]

Halloween Stores Now Open — If you’re looking for a Halloween costume, there are three Spirit Halloween stores now open in the area, although none are in Arlington. For something closer to home, Total Fright in the Crystal City Shops (known as Total Party other times of the year) is also selling costumes and decorations. Meanwhile, a Christmas store is now open in Tysons. [Tysons Reporter]

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Morning Notes

Pentagon Ricin Case Update — “Letters sent to the White House and the Pentagon did not contain a finished form of ricin, law enforcement officials said Wednesday, but did contain a primitive form or precursor… A man was arrested in Logan, Utah, on Wednesday in connection with [the] suspicious letters.” [NBC News, NBC News]

Candidates Call for Speedier Lee Highway Planning — “Indications are pointing to redevelopment of significant portions of the Lee Highway corridor through Arlington beginning to gather steam. But is the Arlington County government going to be left behind as the process grinds on? The two candidates for County Board say the local government needs to get moving on its efforts to lead a comprehensive effort in helping plan the corridor’s future.” [InsideNova]

GMU ‘No Scooter Zone’ Nixed — George Mason University “recognizes the popularity of the scooters, so it is softening the message, [spokesman Buzz] McClain said. ‘I think the ‘no scooter zone’ sign got the attention of a lot of people, a little exclamatory. So we’re gonna tone down the messaging and say, ‘park the scooters over by the bikes,’ and that’s it.'” [NBC Washington]

Bistro 1521 Reviewed — Washington Post food critic Tim Carman gave a mostly positive review to Bistro 1521, the Filipino restaurant on N. Glebe Road in Ballston. [Washington Post]

Tonight: Family Film Showing in Clarendon — “Join Market Common Clarendon each Thursday in October starting at 6:30 p.m. for a FREE family-friendly movie on The Loop! Pre-movie fun begins at 4:30 with face painting and balloon twisting and free popcorn and candy from 6-8 p.m.” [ARLnow Events]

Teachers Endorse Kanninen, de Ferranti — The Arlington Education Association PAC has endorsed Democratic candidate Matt de Ferranti for Arlington County Board and incumbent Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The PAC represents Arlington teachers. [Twitter, Twitter, Arlington Education Association]

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Kickoff — “Project PEACE is hosting Kate Ranta, a local domestic and gun violence survivor… for a community conversation about sex, violence and the Arlington community. The event takes place [on] Thursday, October 4 [at] 6:30 p.m., at the Walter Reed Community Center.” [Press Release]

Arlington’s Pros and Cons Compared to Tysons — “‘Arlington has old office spaces with bad floor plans,’ said [GMU Professor Stephen] Fuller. ‘That’s sending people out to Tysons, which has newer office space… [But] when Amazon was looking at Northern Virginia, they were looking at Crystal City, not Tysons. Tysons just doesn’t offer lifestyle that they’re looking for.'” [Tysons Reporter]

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GMU Declares a ‘No Scooter Zone’ at Its Virginia Square Campus

George Mason University has cordoned off a “no scooter zone” in front of its Arlington campus in Virginia Square.

Readers alerted ARLnow to the signs yesterday (Monday), which are located in front of the university’s Founders Hall plaza on Fairfax Drive.

The signs direct dockless electric scooter riders to park the vehicles at a nearby bike rack, rather than abandoning them at random. Ever since Bird became the first company to bring the dockless scooters to Arlington this June, the county’s sidewalks and yards have increasingly been littered with the vehicles.

Buzz McClain, a spokesman for the Schar School of Policy and Government (which is located at Mason’s Arlington campus), told ARLnow that university officials believe the signs are necessary to keep the parked Birds out of harm’s way in the highly trafficked plaza. He noted that signs are simply designed to provide a little clarity about where the vehicles belong, “just as we do with bikes.”

Mason’s decision comes as the county prepares for an influx of hundreds of dockless bikes and scooters, thanks to a new pilot program approved by the County Board last week.

The nine-month pilot also sets some restrictions on the dockless vehicles to give the county more control about where the scooters end up, given growing community consternation about the sudden proliferation of the vehicles.

The new program bans riders from using the scooters on sidewalks and trails, and will also require any company to move an improperly parked vehicle within one hour of receiving a complaint, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

County staff are also considering a similar tactic to Mason’s chosen option, and could soon establish “on-street corrals” at Metro stations for dockless bikes and scooters.

Staff believe such an addition would “encourage orderly parking and on-street riding” and has proven effective in cities across the globe, according to a presentation delivered to the Board.

Photo (1) courtesy Chaz Papa

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Podcast: George Mason Regional Researcher Terry Clower

Arlington’s economic outlook is “so bright you need to wear shades,” according to Terry Clower, an expert on the D.C. region over at George Mason University.

As a professor of public policy and director of Mason’s Center for Regional Analysis, Clower can speak with some authority on just how Arlington is doing. But between Amazon’s potential arrival in Arlington and all of the problems surrounding the region’s transportation, Clower does see a few clouds on the horizon.

On this edition of the 26 Square Miles podcast, we discussed the county’s odds of landing Amazon, what would happen if the county is successful, and all manner of the hottest economic and transportation-related debates around Arlington.

Listen below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher or TuneIn.

Photo courtesy of George Mason University

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GMU Hosting Free Screening of Obama Documentary ‘The Final Year’

President Obama speaks at Washington-Lee High School

George Mason University’s Arlington campus is holding a free screening of The Final Year, a documentary chronicling the foreign policy decisions made in the closing days of President Barack Obama’s administration.

The university’s Center for Security Policy Studies at the Schar School of Policy and Government will host the screening at the Founders Hall auditorium (3434 Washington Blvd) starting at 6 p.m. on Thursday (May 10).

Mason professor Ellen Laipson, the director of the university’s international security program, will then host a panel discussion with several Obama administration veterans. Panelists are set to include Rumana Ahmed, former senior advisor to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes; Sergio Aguiree, former chief of staff to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former White House National Security Council Director; and Desiree Barnes, who served as a communications and public engagement strategist for Obama.

Released earlier this year and directed by Greg Barker, The Final Year focuses on top foreign policy officials in Obama’s White House, like Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, as they wrestle with how to leave a lasting legacy on the international stage.

Anyone interested in attending the screening can register online.

File photo

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Nelson Mandela’s Grandson Heads to GMU’s Arlington Campus, Hopes to Continue the South African Leader’s Legacy

Siyabulela Mandela, grandson of the iconic South African leader Nelson Mandela, never thought he had much reason to come to America.

After all, the 25-year-old scholar is busy working on his doctorate at a South African university named for his famous grandfather. Someday, he even hopes to work as a diplomat for his country and follow in Nelson’s footsteps to resolve conflicts across Africa.

Nevertheless, he felt himself pulled toward the U.S., and Arlington specifically, for one simple reason — he had to get to George Mason University. Mandela arrived in Arlington on April 1, and he plans to spend the next four months working as a visiting scholar at Mason’s conflict resolution program.

“If it was not because of George Mason University, I would’ve never laid my foot in America,” Mandela told ARLnow in a recent interview. “I never wanted to come here. But the school here gave me an opportunity. The work that they do at George Mason overshadows that track record America has in the rest of the world.”

Indeed, Mandela confesses he is quite skeptical of America’s influence abroad, particularly after President Donald Trump’s vulgar, derogatory remarks about African nations sparked an international uproar earlier this year. But as a student of diplomacy, Mandela felt compelled to take a chance on Mason and its School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

“I think we are where we are in South Africa because of the contribution of scholars who came from George Mason,” Mandela said.

He’s hard at work on a dissertation on diplomacy and conflict resolution in African nations, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he aims to bring some of the insights he gleans from the Mason scholars whom he admires so much into his work.

Mandela is also planning to do a little sightseeing (he says he’s already toured D.C. a bit and hopes to see the rest of the country in the coming weeks), yet he’d also like to do his best to spread a bit of his grandfather’s wisdom to his American counterparts. He sees plenty of parallels between South Africa’s struggles with racism and America’s history, and he hopes his paternal grandfather’s experience as president working to unite his country after the end of apartheid offers some lessons for American leaders.

“Even though for years and years he was imprisoned by the white folks who perceived themselves as supreme, he could emerge out of that pain and seek nothing but reconciliation,” Mandela said. “That is something that is phenomenal, and angelic. A prisoner who could come out and say, ‘It’s time to make peace.'”

Mandela was born in Qunu, a village in the same province from which his grandfather hailed, yet he reports only spending limited time with Nelson before his death in 2013. As his grandfather began to step away from politics in the early 2000s, Siyabulela says he got the chance to see him more often at family gatherings.

In particular, he remembers his grandfather’s tradition of holding a massive party at his home each Christmas Day, open to any child living nearby.

“He’d stay from morning until evening and shake the hand of each and every child and hand them gifts,” Mandela said.

Mandela says his family is so large that he’s not quite sure how many people can count themselves as Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren — according to his official biography, Mandela was married three times and had a total of six children — yet Siyabulela always felt the pressure to live up to the family name.

“You can’t do things other people can do,” Mandela said. “I cannot be found drunk in the street or fighting in the street like everyone else. I have to conduct myself on the basis of having him as my role model. It’s never an easy road, but interestingly enough it has shaped me as a person and made me to be a better person.”

Indeed, whether it’s his work at Mason or his studies in South Africa, the younger Mandela hopes to live up to his grandfather’s legacy, in ways big and small.

“It’s about taking up the baton and continuing that legacy, taking up the fight against injustice, the fight for human rights and peace for all,” Mandela said.

Photo by Anna Merod

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George Mason University Shrubbery Fire Extinguished Near Bill of Rights Eagle

Three shrubs caught on fire beside George Mason University’s Bill of Rights Eagle in Virginia Square.

The fire broke out on this afternoon (Friday) just before 1 p.m., engulfing the shrubbery and a patch of mulch. The flames were quickly extinguished by responding firefighters, and a college employee said that it wasn’t a major incident. Classes were in session at the time but there was not report of any evacuation.

A facilities worker told ARLnow.com that the flames were three feet high, and that a glass office window adjacent to the fire was cracked as a result.

Another facilities worker, who said that he had worked for the college for the past 20 years, said that the college’s shrubbery had never caught on fire before.

He added that his colleagues had not seen anything odd in the area prior to the fire, but that several people tripped and fell while running away.

Unveiled last May with much fanfare, the GMU Antonin Scalia Law School’s “Bill of Rights Eagle” did not appear to suffer any damage from the fire.

Warm weather has helped spark a number of small mulch and grass fires around Arlington over the past day or so.

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Kaine, Dems to Host Gun Control ‘Planning Meeting,’ Town Hall

Sen. Tim Kaine has organized an “action planning meeting” in Arlington with gun violence advocates, victims’ families and faith leaders, the day before gun violence prevention marches are scheduled nationwide.

The event will be held at George Mason University’s Founders Hall on Friday (March 23) at 1 p.m. Per a press release, meeting attendees will “talk about the work they are doing in the community to promote safety reforms that make communities safer.”

The senator, according to the release, “is optimistic that the activism of students and parents who have spoken out all over the country has changed the dynamic of the gun violence prevention debate and could finally spur action in Congress.

Kaine’s event is scheduled a day before the national March For Our Lives anti-gun-violence rally on Saturday, March 24. Arlington Democrats are planning a weekend of events around it.

Among the events is a “Town Hall for Action on Commonsense Gun Safety Measures” held by the Arlington County Democratic Committee. It is scheduled to take place on Sunday, the day after the rally, at Faith Lutheran Church (3313 Arlington Boulevard) from 2-4 p.m.

Virginia Del. Chris Hurst (D-12) will be the keynote speaker, discussing his personal gun violence story.

The following speakers will also attend the town hall and “offer unique perspectives on the issue of gun violence and concrete action steps,” per a Facebook event listing.

  • Beth Arthur, Arlington Sheriff’s Office
  • Kris Brown, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
  • Karina de Leede, Arlington Student Activists
  • Chloe Fugel, Arlington Student Activists
  • Josh Horwitz, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
  • Celia Slater, Moms Demand Action Arlington
  • Yasmine Taeb, Alumnus of Stoneman Douglas High School and current DNC member
  • Tannia Talento, Arlington School Board

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will be leading Arlington Democrats in the march on Saturday, starting on the Arlington side of the Memorial Bridge at 10:30 a.m., according to a press release from state Sen. Adam Ebbin’s office.

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Northam, Gillespie Campaign Managers Reflect on Governor’s Race

After a contentious race for governor in Virginia, the campaign managers for the two major candidates had a few flashpoints as they reflected on the contest in Arlington on Monday night.

Chris Leavitt, who managed Republican Ed Gillespie’s campaign, said his opposite number on Democratic candidate Ralph Northam’s campaign, Brad Komar, was a “liar” for saying he and his colleagues had no knowledge of an attack ad run by the Latino Victory Fund against the Republican.

Komar said the ad came from a community that felt it was “under attack,” but that the Northam campaign was not involved.

“It’s not how I would have responded,” he said. “We did not see the ad; I did not authorize it.”

The ad showed a white man in a pickup truck with a Gillespie bumper sticker and a Confederate flag threatening minority children. It ran on Spanish-language channels for two days before being taken down after the terrorist attack in New York by a man driving a pickup truck.

The pair were in conversation before more than 250 people at George Mason University’s Arlington campus at an event by the Virginia Public Access Project and GMU’s Schar School of Policy and Government. It came less than a week after Northam beat Gillespie to the governor’s mansion, thanks in part to the 68,315 votes he received in Arlington to Gillespie’s 16,160.

Komar said he regretted the campaign leaving then-lieutenant governor candidate Justin Fairfax, who also triumphed last week in a Democratic clean sweep alongside Attorney General Mark Herring, off a mailer that was sent to some houses in Northern Virginia.

At the time, the campaign said it was accommodating the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which did not endorse Fairfax as he opposes two planned natural gas pipelines, but endorsed the other two.

“We handled a regular, normal thing badly,” Komar said, noting that it should not have been sent out by the campaign but by someone else.

Leavitt defended the Gillespie campaign’s decision to run television ads attacking Northam as weak on the Central American street gang MS-13, and supporting so-called “Sanctuary Cities,” where local authorities do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

Such “sanctuaries” do not exist in Virginia, but Leavitt said that the Gillespie campaign had data that suggested that some independent voters were concerned about a rise in crime committed by illegal immigrants.

“You have to pick certain spots where there are avenues where you can go after your opponent,” Leavitt said. “This was one of those avenues.”

And Leavitt said trying to find weaknesses in Northam to attack was especially problematic, given his personal history as a U.S. Army doctor then a pediatric neurologist, as well as a stellar career in Richmond.

He said the Gillespie campaign hoped for a bruising Democratic primary against former Rep. Tom Perriello to expose more weaknesses.

“Frankly, the Governor-Elect did not have as many vulnerabilities as we would have liked, and we thought a primary could open up a few more,” Leavitt said.

Looming over the race was President Donald Trump, who was elected last year and has inspired more Democratic activism but left many Republicans walking a tightrope on whether to embrace his rhetoric.

Leavitt said that while it may have appeared Gillespie struggled to find that balance, campaign staff were determined to keep the race about Virginia issues and not “nationalize” it.

Trump did not campaign for Gillespie, and criticized him on Twitter for not embracing “me or what I stand for.”

“At the time, it seemed like the right path,” Leavitt said, noting Gillespie’s emphasis on providing policy to help Virginians rather than be dragged into the national discussion.

For his part, Komar said he and his colleagues looked to capitalize on Gillespie’s apparent reluctance to embrace Trump.

“Trumpism without Trump, I think, is a win for us,” Komar said.

Both agreed that they did not see the wave of anti-Trump sentiment coming in Virginia, a sentiment that has helped almost wipe out Republicans’ advantage in the House of Delegates.

And Komar said the Northam campaign looked to capitalize on Republicans’ inability to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and shift the attention onto Virginia’s proposed expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, unsuccessful both through the General Assembly and executive action.

“The fact that this remained an issue through the election… this was very important,” Komar said.

“It wasn’t an area where we really wanted to debate,” Leavitt said in response. “We wanted to turn the conversation to something else.”

With this year’s elections over, political attention now shifts to the 2018 mid-terms. Both said that with full control of government, it is on Republicans to get something done, or else they will face the wrath of voters.

Republicans have a “lot to think about and recalibrate,” Leavitt said. “Good luck, because it’s going to be a challenge.”

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Wednesday, Sept. 27: A Conversation with Mary Roach at GMU’s Arlington Campus

How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit? Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks? Why is a zipper a problem for a sniper?

On Wednesday, September 27, join economist Tyler Cowen and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for a conversation with “America’s funniest science writer,” Mary Roach. The conversation is part of the Mercatus Center’s Conversations with Tyler event series, and will be open to the public. A book signing will immediately follow the event.

Click here to register.

Roach’s latest book is Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. Grunt examines the science behind keeping soldiers’ bodies and minds intact, alert, and sane in the extreme conditions that come with war.

Like Roach’s other books, Grunt combines fascinating science with the perfect amount of humor and accessibility to explore life’s most interesting peculiarities. Roach’s work isn’t afraid to “go there” as she explores taboo topics such as sex, the nitty gritty of life in space, dead bodies, and what happens to food after you eat it.

Roach’s perspective frequently comes from a first-hand experience as she offers up herself — and sometimes her husband — to participate in unconventional science experiments, including agreeing to wear ultrasound equipment during coitus.

In Conversations with Tyler, economist and George Mason University professor Tyler Cowen explores the world of ideas in one-on-one dialogues with today’s top thinkers. Past guests include Lawrence H. Summers, Malcolm Gladwell, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Atul Gawande.

Mary Roach’s skillful wit and creative approach to science makes her the perfect candidate for a conversation with Tyler. Come prepared to laugh, learn, and unlock some of life’s most interesting mysteries.

Register for the event here.

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Protests Greet Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on GMU’s Arlington Campus

More than 30 people protested Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ arrival on the Arlington campus of George Mason University on Thursday morning.

Protestors outside where she made her announcement accused her of “protecting rapists” and failing to protect the most vulnerable, and the survivors of sexual assault.

“After a week of disgusting announcements, this is going to be the worst of them,” said GMU graduate Rodrigo Velasquez, adding that there is “no legal or moral argument for rolling back protections for our most vulnerable.”

DeVos announced a plan to rethink the government’s enforcement of Title IX and federal regulations of sexual assault policies on college campuses. During her speech, per reporters inside, DeVos said she would implement a public comment period to gather feedback on it.

DeVos reportedly added that she would look to follow “due process” in enforcement of Title IX, and that the “era of rule by letter is over.” She said she would not change federal guidelines yet, nor the so-called “Dear Colleague” letter that gave colleges that receive federal money guidelines on how to report alleged sexual assaults, but it is under review.

Protestors carried signs attacking DeVos and President Trump, as well as sharing personal stories of sexual assault on college campuses. The crowd regularly broke out into chants of “Stand with survivors,” “Stop protecting rapists” and “Stop Betsy DeVos” throughout.

And when one protestor got word through social media that the protests could be heard in the auditorium where DeVos was speaking, enormous cheers, jeers and whistles broke out, as well as chants of “Can you hear us?”

Protestors promised that their fight is just beginning, and urged those looking on to speak in support of current regulations.

“We will not go back to a time when survivors go back into the shadows,” Velasquez said. “So let’s make sure Betsy DeVos hears this.”

The protestors dispersed around 1 p.m., after the conclusion of DeVos’ speech.

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