Home 2019 Elections Video: Sen. Barbara Favola (D), Nicole Merlene (D) Debate in Virginia Senate...

Video: Sen. Barbara Favola (D), Nicole Merlene (D) Debate in Virginia Senate District 31


I’m not going to live blog this, but will probably add some comments later. For now, just wanted to throw the live stream up here of this morning’s debate between State Senator Barbara Favola (D-SD31) and challenger Nicole Merlene at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington. Enjoy!

P.S. The main thing I’m looking for is differences between the candidates and a strong argument from the challenger, Nicole Merlene, why Sen. Favola needs to go. So far, I haven’t really heard either of those things in this campaign. To me, what a challenger’s “elevator speech” should be is something like: “Incumbent X should be replaced because he or she has been an ineffective leader on certain issues that [insert name of district, county, etc.] cares about. For instance, the incumbent hasn’t led – but has simply kept the seat warm – on [insert important issue(s) here]. If i have the honor of being elected, I will fight relentlessly for [insert important issue(s) here] and work 24/7 for [name of jurisdiction].”

UPDATE #1: Watching the debate again. In her opening statement, Merlene hit Favola on ethics, charged that Favola has significant “conflicts of issues,” including a development in Rosslyn that Favola was an advisor on, and also her work for Marymount University and the Virginia Hospital Center. According to Merlene, “our representative was using public office for private benefit…although legal, was still not right.” Merlene also strongly implied that Favola serves the “highest bidder,” uses “public office for private benefit.

For her part, Favola said she “live[s] and breathe[s] Arlington progressive Democratic values” and called herself a “pragmatic progressive” who passed “over 40 bills” that
“improve our quality of life day in and day out.” She cited her work on “gun safety,” clean energy, mental health, Medicaid expansion, etc. She said she “choose[s] her causes very carefully” and is “proud to be associated with Marymount University…[and] Virginia Hospital Center.” She committed to “making a green economy a top priority,” fighting climate change, promoting a quality K-12 education system, “helping our most vulnerable,” “insuring wherever a child is born…that child has equal opportunity,” ensuring LGBT equality, etc.

UPDATE #2: There was a one-word question, “Dominion?” Merlene said she’s “led on not taking contributions from Dominion,” argued that “you just are” influenced by contributions. She said “when you accept thousands and thousands of dollars and only introduce one piece of legislation on environmental issues, I think that that’s telling.”  She called for more competition with Dominion and campaign finance reform, arguing that the concept of a public utility being able to contribute to legislatures “is wrong…egregious and corrupt.”

For her part, Favola said “Dominion does give money to lawmakers…a Dominion donation has never, ever influenced my vote…Dominion’s given me…slightly more than 1/2 of 1% [of my donations]…I’ve never looked at my donor sheet when I make a vote.” She added, “I don’t think it’s healthy to rely on any one energy source” and that we need to revise “in some fashion the State Corporation Commission.”



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