This morning, Arlington Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey posted his thoughts on two hot races in Arlington County and Falls Church: 1) the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s race between incumbent Theo Stamos and challenger Parisa Tafti; and 2) the State Senate race between incumbent Barbara Favola (D-SD31) and challenger Nicole Merlene. The key points made in the Sun Gazette post were:
- “Stamos’s bid in the primary could get a big boost from an unexpected source: an unrelated primary battle going on at the same time.”
- Why? Because “With Favola facing a challenge, she (Favola) will be working to whip up turnout for herself in her precincts. And, more than likely, if a voter is going to cast a ballot for Favola, that same voter is going to support Stamos.”
- Supposedly Favola is being “challenged from her left by Nicole Merlene.”
- Finally: “Given that Tafti likely has a better chance to knock off Stamos than Merlene has to defeat Favola; given that Merlene on the ballot could hurt Tafti and help Stamos; and given that Tafti and Merlene are similar in their overall political outlooks and therefore probably would be eager to help one another when possible, one wonders if (wait . . . gotta catch my breath for a second) Team Tafti might have quietly approached Merlene weeks back and asked her to eschew taking on Favola in order to help them out. If they did make the request, the answer came last week when Merlene kicked off her campaign.”
There’s a lot to unpack here, including the argument that Favola voters are more likely to support Stamos than Tafti. I’m not sure I buy that, but it’s an intriguing theory, especially given Favola’s quiet support – from what I’ve heard – for Stamos.
As for Tafti and Merlene being “similar in their overall political outlooks,” I have no idea what to make of that, as they are running for completely different offices, talking about completely different issues, etc. Also, while I definitely think it’s fair to say that Tafti is challenging Stamos “from her left,” I have no idea how anyone could gather that, certainly not at this point, about the Favola vs. Merlene battle. From what I’ve heard from Merlene so far, I haven’t noticed a particularly ideological message, let alone “left” per se. Instead, if you look at her website and/or kickoff video, Merlene has talked about bread-and-butter, quality-of-life issues like the Metro, the high cost of rent, tenant-landlord relations, getting a good job, sending too much money to Richmond and not getting enough back, public integrity and environmental protection. Not exactly “left” stuff here.
Also, I asked Merlene directly if she’s running to Favola’s “left,” and her answer was clear and direct: “no.” I further asked her what she thought about the Sun Gazette story, and she responded:
“That is simply false and couldn’t be further from the truth. I am excited about the upswell of a grassroots support that has been created in the less than two weeks since I’ve announced. I look forward to June.”
Finally, I checked with the Tafti campaign about whether the Sun Gazette article was accurate, and they issued a statement that read:
“Fiction. Parisa is focused on the Commonwealth’s Attorney race and bringing criminal justice reform to Arlington and Falls Church City.”
So there you have it, from two of the campaigns discussed in this morning’s Sun Gazette story…”fiction,” “simply false,” “couldn’t be further from the truth.”