Over the past week or two, I’ve spoken and/or emailed with about 15 or so Arlington Democrats – including several prominent ones – about the 31st State Senate district race (Mary Margaret Whipple is retiring). One thing is absolutely clear, as I’ve heard it over and over again: Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw is actively working to “clear the field” of any other candidates (and there have been many names mentioned the past few weeks), in order to guarantee Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola the nomination. It’s not a big secret or anything, as Saslaw’s apparently “bragging” about it. How is he doing this?
Specifically, what I’m being told is that Saslaw is actively badmouthing Del. Patrick Hope (D-47), telling everyone that Hope “can’t win,” and helping to dissuade potential donors from giving money to Hope. Why is Saslaw so interested in “clearing the field” for Favola? I’m told that this is because Saslaw doesn’t want a real progressive or anyone who would cause him trouble (e.g., not do exactly what he tells them to do) in this seat. Also, I’m told that Saslaw doesn’t want an expensive, contentious primary, leaving just a couple months for the Democratic nominee to run their general election campaign against the Republican nominee in what will be a less “blue” district than it is now.
I’m also being told, by multiple sources, that Barbara Favola is misleading people intentionally about Patrick Hope, telling them that she “knows” Hope isn’t running. Yet people who have talked to Hope in recent days – and that includes yours truly – have confirmed that he has not made up his mind definitively. At least, he HAD not made up his mind definitively on what he was going to do, as of a couple days ago, when Favola was busy telling people that Hope was “definitely not running.”
Finally, one prominent Arlington Democrat noted, “The sad thing is that all of this energy by Saslaw/Whipple et al. to ‘clear the field’ in this historically blue seat…could and should have been devoted to recruiting candidates in other districts in which it has been much harder to recruit them.”