Home Virginia Politics Dick Saslaw “Clears the Field” for Barbara Favola in 31st State Senate...

Dick Saslaw “Clears the Field” for Barbara Favola in 31st State Senate District


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.”

Uh, yeah!

  • kindler

    …to send in the military to install democracy here?  (Just a thought.)

  • NWVirginian

    We need someone to stand up to Saslaw – I have a feeling that Ben would relish the opportunity.

  • pontoon

    thing that the Democratic elite have been attempting to do in the Senate race?  Aren’t they attempting to clear the field for Tim Kaine?  Perhaps Saslaw is taking his cues from the DPVa, Brian Moran, Mark Warner et al.

  • Peter 2010

    I agree with Gretchen and Lowell that this is “very much Saslaw’s style”. It is the style of a person who has been in power way too long. When the head of the Senate Democratic caucus, who controls the ways in which enormous amounts of money are spent, actively discourages a sitting  Democratic Delegate not to challenge a sitting Democratic County Board member for the Democratic nomination to an open Senate seat currently held by a Democrat, then all grassroots Democrats should condemn that behavior. We should all do everything we can to spread the word that it’s time for Saslaw to “hang it up”. VA Senate Democrats need new leaders. Let’s put “the hammmer” back in the tool box and close the lid.

  • NotJohnSMosby

    While I generally think that anyone that’s a legitimate candidate who wants to throw their hat in the ring is free to, this year gives me pause.  With the extremely compressed schedule, and the fact that the 31st is one of the few districts where the Republican candidate has already announced (Caren Merrick) and is extremely wealthy, spending a couple of months bashing each other is bad.  There’s no time after the August primary to get the taste of the primary campaign out of voters mouths, and it would allow Merrick time to get her campaign rolling.  Now, I think regardless, Dems are pretty certain to win this seat.  But, why make it more difficult than it needs to be?  The same goes for the 30th, although I haven’t heard of any Republican challenger down there.  

    The point is, I see some valid reasons for coming to a decision prior to the date of a primary or convention.  I don’t like it, but I do understand the reasons for it.

  • …nobody can figure out why George Barker was chosen to draw the districts, except for two things: 1) he personally has a lot to lose, is highly vulnerable, and badly needed a new district to “save his a***”; and 2) he’s retired so has the time to do this. However, I’m told that anyone who believes Barker’s some kind of expert on this stuff – as Anita Kumar’s article implied – is…uh…not the brightest bulb.

    Also, it’s obvious that Janet Howell specifically drew her district to escape from Caryn Merrick, who she’s apparently scared s***less of.