Home Local Politics Arlington County Board Caucus: Winners and Losers

Arlington County Board Caucus: Winners and Losers



Arlington County – Got an excellent new board member, one who will be independent, hard working, and honest. Good job, Arlington!

Mary Margaret Whipple – She’s been on somewhat of a roll recently in terms of her endorsements (e.g., Barbara Favola, Libby Garvey). Whipple also got the Democratic nominee for governor she wanted in 2009, although Creigh Deeds then went on to lose in a landslide to Bob McDonnell in November, so that one was a mixed bag. But today, at least, Whipple’s a winner!

Libby Garvey as an Arlington powerhouse: As her 2005 (House of Delegates), 2011 (State Senate) and 2012 (County Board) runs – plus her crushing victory for reelection to the Arlington School Board in 2008 – have shown, Garvey is a powerhouse in Arlington, not so much in Alexandria and Fairfax.

Libby Garvey’s team: Clearly, running for office isn’t an individual endeavor, it’s a team effort, and Libby’s team – James Stretch, Dave Leichtman, etc. – obviously did a great job getting out their vote. Nice job, guys!

Lee Hockstader (aka, Washington Post Editorial Board) – I’ve certainly been critical of Hockstader in the past, but I think he nailed this endorsement (of Libby Garvey), and Garvey won big time. I’m not sure that I’d generalize from this to say that Post endorsements are extremely important, but this one seems to have boosted Garvey to a bigger victory than many expected.

Barbara Favola – She got the person she wanted – and endorsed – to succeed her on the Board.

Local blogs, online newspapers: Coverage of the board race was far and away concentrated in blogs like Blue Virginia, NLS, and Arlington Yupette, plus online newspapers like ArlNow, the Patch, and Arlington Mercury (and even, as much as I hate to say it, the Sun Gazette politics blog). In comparison, the dead tree papers like the Kaplan Post were left far, far behind. Also, I’d point out that both NLS and yours truly endorsed the winner, Libby Garvey.

The folks at Arlington Yupette, whoever they may be (and the widely-held belief is that it’s a combination of Jim Hurysz, Audrey Clement, and probably other Greens, Change of Government supporters, and probably a disgruntled Democrat or two) – Whatever you might think of that blog, they almost singlehandedly demolished Melissa Bondi’s candidacy with research into, and revelations about, Bondi’s tax issues.

Terron Sims – Far outperformed many peoples’ (mine included) expectations, setting himself up for (or at least not killing his chances of undertaking) possible future runs. If Sims had finished last, as he did in his run for School Board, his political career would have been in deep, deep trouble.

Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, Rep. Jim Moran – They both endorsed Terron Sims, who did much, much better than his last-place finish in 2008 for School Board. Also, O’Leary blasted Melissa Bondi in the newspapers, essentially as a tax scofflaw, and Bondi finished a distant second. For O’Leary, that’s Mission Accomplished, apparently. Moran also has no love lost for Chris Zimmerman, from what I hear, plus he proved that he’s loyal to his friends. For an old Boston-style pol, that’s all important, whether it really benefits him or not in terms of getting things done.

Arlington County Board members Jay Fisette and Mary Hynes – Given that they will (almost certainly) be working with whoever won the Democratic caucus, they smartly stayed out of this race. It will be interesting to see how Board dynamics play out in coming months.


Arlington County Board member Chris Zimmerman – To a large extent, the opposition to Melissa Bondi really seemed to be aimed at Zimmerman and his perceived (by many) power grab on the Arlington County Board. That appears to have backfired, big time. As one smart friend of mine put it, “the instances in which Zimmerman’s backing has been either a net negative or the kiss of death have been [where] the perception [has been] that he is trying (via his endorsement) to achieve an objective like gaining enough votes on the School Board or on the County Board to have a working majority. In those instances, there has been an instinctive, negative adverse reaction to the candidate receiving Chris’ endorsement no matter how good or otherwise qualified that candidate is.” Agreed.

Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada and Arlington Clerk of Court Paul Ferguson – Both endorsed and campaigned hard for Melissa Bondi, who lost by a wide margin. In both cases, they’ll now be working with Libby Garvey, who they obviously did not support, so we’ll see how that goes.

Columbia Pike streetcar advocates – The good folks at Greater Greater Washington and elsewhere definitely didn’t get the clearly pro-streetcar candidate they wanted. Not that Garvey’s against it, but she’s much more skeptical of the cost than Bondi appeared to be.

Kim Klingler and Peter Fallon – Both are good, smart people with a lot to offer, but clearly their campaigns went absolutely nowhere. In Kim’s case, I was never clear on the rationale, and in Peter’s case, let’s just say – for better or worse – he’s NOT a politician! 😉

Peter Rousselot – A great friend of mine, also someone who’s done tremendous work over the years for Arlington Democrats (and Democrats in general!), so I’m loath to put him on any “losers” list, but Peter campaigned hard for Kim Klingler, even did a robocall for her, and…well, let’s just say, it didn’t help. Sorry, Peter. 🙁

Turnout – It wasn’t worse than usual as far as Arlington Democratic caucuses go, but it was still pathetic in the broader scheme of things. I mean, we’re talking about 2% of Arlingtonians choosing the next County Board Member for Life (most likely, barring a huge Republican or Green upset in March). The other 98% of Arlingtonians apparently aren’t too concerned which Democrat replaces the departing Democrat on the Board.

One more thing about Melissa Bondi: I don’t want to pile on Melissa at all, because I like and admire her a great deal (and think that some of the criticism of her was over the top, absurd, outlandish, unfounded, etc.). However, in general, before running for office, it’s probably a decent idea to do some “self research” (as it’s called), make sure you’ve got your ducks in a row, that you don’t have any skeletons in your closet, etc. If you find that you’ve got those things, you might want to either reassess your run, or at the minimum make sure you clear up as many of them as possible before you throw your hat in the ring. Just sayin’…

  • dominic

    Spot on to me!

  • A lot of voters will remember Terron Sims & Frank O’Leary for offering a lot of mud and not much substance. Hope the 3rd place finish was worth it.

  • listlady

    for organizing and running two days of “firehouse primary” very efficiently, and welcoming and processing over 4300 voters — including over 3000 on a sleety Saturday — with very few hitches or complaints. Kudos to caucus director Terry Serie, chief volunteer manager Marge Epstein and everyone who helped.

    More broadly, ACDC chair Mike Lieberman and his team deserve applause for managing a highly competitive, time-compressed five-candidate nominating process with notable fairness and even-handedness.

    Next task: win the special election in March!

  • mlawson

    One addition to the winners of team Garvey would most definitely be field director Jon Hooe.  He was Barbara Favola’s general election field director that dramatically increased Arlington turnout and was the mastermind behind Libby’s successful field operation.  

  • Charly

    I believe that Sims did surprisingly well because people who were not comfortable voting for another school board member to join the county board, yet who didn’t want to vote for Bondi after her alleged tax issues, decided that he was the logical next choice.  It is doubtful he would have done as well had the Bondi campaign not encountered difficulties.  He seemed unprepared for the debates and not serious about doing the work to be an effective county board member.