Home Virginia Politics Ben Tribbett Not Running, Two Democrats to Contest the 31st Senate Nomination

Ben Tribbett Not Running, Two Democrats to Contest the 31st Senate Nomination


(UPDATE: See the statement by Jaime Areizaga-Soto in the comments section. – promoted by lowkell)

A couple minutes ago, Ben Tribbett announced that he’s not running for State Senate in the 31st District, as he had been strongly considering doing. In addition to his announcement (see the full text on the “flip”), Ben graciously added “We have two great candidates.” I hope he’s right.

Anyway, with that news, the two remaining Democratic candidates are Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola (note to Barbara, it is NOT a “Board of Supervisors” as you keep erroneously telling people) and Jaime Areizaga-Soto.

Right now, I’m leaning towards endorsing Areizaga-Soto, but I’ll wait until I have a chance to talk to him, hear him speak (e.g., tomorrow night at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting), and find out what his main campaign themes and vision for the office will be.

By the way, I’m very concerned that Democrats could lose the 31st district this November. Here is the website for the likely Republican nominee, Caren Merrick. Take a look at it, also keep in mind that she’s (reportedly) loaded with money, and see what you think.

Personally, what I’m seeing is: 1) a woman (that’s important, because the seat is currently held by Mary Margaret Whipple, probably the most powerful woman in the General Assembly); 2) a seeming “moderate” who doesn’t even mention social issues at all on her website, but who likes the word “bipartisan”; 3) a strong personal narrative (e.g, “the first woman in her family to earn a college degree;” started a company in her basement); and 4) an image (at least, that she’s projecting) as a soccer mom who teaches Sunday School and helps out with her sons’ sports and Scouting activities. Combine all that with plenty of money, a district that’s not nearly as “blue” as it was prior to its gerrymandering (it now lumps Arlington in with Great Falls and part of eastern Loudoun!) by Dick Saslaw and Company, and a potentially extremely weak Democratic nominee in Barbara Favola, and what does it spell? In my book, “potential trouble.” I hope I’m wrong, but I fear I’m right. 🙁


Thanks for signing up to hear the news on my potential campaign for State Senate this year.  Your pledges of financial or volunteer support and words of encouragement have meant a lot to me.

I’ve decided not to run for the Virginia Senate this year.

Having an opportunity to spend a few weeks considering a campaign of this magnitude is a huge honor and I’ve learned a lot during this process about our community and important issues that need to be addressed.  There are hundreds of factors that go into a decision like this and I’d rather not outline my “pros and cons” in an email.  

This decision not to run was made so much more difficult by the outpouring of support we received.  12 current or former members of the General Assembly, 31 current/former local elected officials in Northern Virginia all pledged their endorsements to our campaign.  Over 250 people pledged to donate- and over 300 pledged their time to volunteer.  These are the kinds of numbers that any candidate would be lucky to have even without a primary!  There is clearly enormous support for changing in the way we do business in Richmond and I hope the other candidates running will respond to that.

Thank you all very much, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to move this Commonwealth forward.

Ben Tribbett

  • KathyinBlacksburg

    I am not sure what I think about this.  I do not know the candidates.  But I will say that, had Ben been in the race, it might have been a lively one.  PS The numbers of folks offering to help and donate aren’t shabby. It is also a gift to the district that he decided relatively early rather than divide voters among more two candidates.  We all know how a three-way race at the state level turned out.  So I think he handled this well and perhaps has an opportunity later on…

  • He’d make an excellent state senator. I’m definitely interested to hear Jaime’s announcement speech at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting on Wednesday night.

  • Democrat Jaime Areizaga-Soto to enter 31st Senate Race

    Arlington, VA. – Tomorrow, May 4, 2011 Democrat Jaime Areizaga-Soto will announce his candidacy for State Senate at the monthly Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.

    “The next State Senator from the 31st District must be a strong voice in the fight for progressive priorities in Richmond, ” said Areizaga-Soto. “The Senate has to be the backstop against the harmful, divisive, extreme agenda of Governor McDonnell and the Republicans. If I am able to represent you in Richmond, I will fight every attempt to take Virginia backward.”

    Jaime Areizaga-Soto is an attorney, a JAG Lt. Colonel in the Army National Guard, a former White House Fellow and lifelong Democrat. He recently resigned his post as a senior Obama appointee to USAID.

    Jaime became a member of ACDC in 1995 and has served as Finance Vice-Chair. He is the Vice President of the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia.

    For the last two years, Jaime served as the Policy Advisor to State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple, advising her on legislation and Democratic Caucus related issues. Now Jaime is running for the 31st Senate district to continue working for the best future for Northern Virginia.

  • on ArlNow and of course NLS. Nothing on the Kaplan Post’s Virginia Politics blog, and nothing on the Sun Gazette Real Estate Rag.

  • aznew

    we won’t have Ben Tribbett to kick around anymore?

  • JimWebster

    Lowell, I share your assessment of the gerrymandered Senate district and its less Democratic leanings, but I am troubled by your description of Barbara Favola as “a potentially extremely weak Democratic nominee.” Any reason you can cite? I’ve admired her grasp of the issues confronted by the Arlington County board (although I sometimes have disagreed with her).  

  • AnthonySF

    new redistricting data over here, the 31st is tied for the 7th most Democratic Senate seat in the state.  DPI isn’t everything, but there are 10 or 11 seats that would go before this one.