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Bob McDonnell Appoints Caren Merrick To MWAA Board

I received an email from Bob McDonnell's office a few minutes ago with his "appointments to three Virginia boards and commissions."  One that immediately jumped out at me was the following:

Caren Merrick of McLean, Partner with Bibury Partners to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority

All I can say is, if you thought MWAA was bad now (which it is!), wait until this unqualified right winger gets on there. Things won't get any better, that's for sure.

UPDATE: A Democratic friend of mine adds the following comments, which I think are both highly relevant and spot-on.

This is part of a long-developing pattern in which the dysfunction of the MWAA Board, and their poor decisions, not only has brought us those bad decisions themselves, but also has brought us an erosion of NOVA and Democratic control over MWAA. The McDonnell appointees are going to start "taking it" to the do-nothing mis-managers on the MWAA Board.

In addition, one of the biggest messaging failures of the MWAA board was their failure to agree upon, and relentlessly promote month in and month out, year in and year out, the need for a dedicated revenue stream for Metro. Episodically and periodically, they did this, but they were never willing to stick with it and explain in easily understandable terms exactly what was going to happen to the system if it didn't get this dedicated revenue stream: inability to replace capital assets as they wore out, etc.

UPDATE: My Dem friend adds, " The messaging problem as to this second point is primarily the fault of WMATA (not MWAA). However, the governance of both MWAA and WMATA has been dysfunctional; both have made poor decisions, and the poor decisions of MWAA have really come into focus with respect to its decisions about the Metro Silver line construction project."

Caren Merrick Lies Again: This Time on Background Checks for Gun...

This is really becoming a pattern with Caren Merrick - say something in public, say or do something completely different when (she thinkgs) nobody is watching. In this case, first check out Caren Merrick speaking a few weeks ago at a debate in Arlington, stating point blank in response to a question from Omar Samaha regarding background checks on all gun sales, "We should have background checks." That's pretty clear, right? It sure seems like it, but of course, this is the same person who promised three times to release her NRA questionnaire before the election, then refused to do so until 5 pm the night before the election (when almost nobody will have a chance to see it prior to voting).

Well, now we've got Merrick's NRA questionnaire, and it's obvious why she didn't want to release it in an urban/suburban district where the vast majority of people favor reasonable gun safety measures, such as background checks, trigger locks, putting serial numbers on cartridge cases, etc. It turns out that Caren Merrick is on the opposite side of the vast majority of 31st Senate district residents on all those things. That's how she earned her A- rating from the NRA, by answering their questions "correctly."

But getting back to the lie: Caren Merrick told Omar Samaha that she supported background checks on private gun sales. Well, in this questionnaire, Merrick checked "no" to the question about background checks at gun shows for firearms transactions. It also turns out that Merrick supports eliminating Virginia's "state instant check system." So much for what she told Omar.

There's lots of other stuff in Merrick's questionnaire you'd almost certainly be interested in seeing before you vote tomorrow, so check it out. But just remember three things. First, it took tremendous pressure to get Caren Merrick to keep a promise that SHE made, three times in public no less, to release her NRA questionnaire prior to the election so everyone could look at it. Second, when she did finally release the survey, after much prodding, she did so just 13 hours before polls open, making it almost impossible for voters to know where she stands on these issues. Finally, Merrick outright lied to Omar Samaha about background checks for private gun sales.

Any further questions about Caren Merrick?

With 1 Day to Go, Caren Merrick STILL Hasn’t Kept Her...

Check out the press release below from Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws. Frankly, at this point, it isn't even about the issue - guns - anymore. Instead, with just 18 hours until polls open, it's about Caren Merrick having promised PUBLICLY, on multiple occasions, to release her NRA questionnaire by election day, and STILL not having done so with polls about to open. If we can't trust Merrick on keeping a simple promise, made publicly at two debates and in the Washington Post, how can we trust her on anything?!? Answer: we can't.
General Assembly Candidates Still Continue to Duck Voter Questions on Gun Violence Prevention Issues

RICHMOND, November 7, 2011-Many among the families united by the April 16, 2007 massacre at Va Tech made a recent appeal to General Assembly candidates to provide details on their positions on a range of important gun violence prevention issues.  Unfortunately, many of these candidates still have not responded to this request to share information with the voters in their districts.  Each of the candidates seeking to represent the residents in these communities (State Senate Districts 13, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36 and 39) received an October 25 letter (a copy of which is provided below) as well as follow-up inquires, including phone calls and e-mail messages, asking for this information.

"These candidates are all interviewing for a job to represent us," said Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema died in the 2007 Va Tech attack.  "We believe the candidates owe it to their future constituents to make a full and complete disclosure of where they stand on these issues that will affect our safety. Importantly, if a candidate has shared detailed information to outside special interest groups, then this same information should be shared with us, the voters.  That is why we are calling on those candidates who completed a survey for either the National Rifle Association (NRA) or the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) to make that information public."

More on the "flip."

Video: Virginia Tech Mom Gets Door Slammed in Her Face at...


As you can see in this video, Josh Horwitz and Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence attempted yesterday to enter 31st State Senate District Republican candidate Caren Merrick's office building in McLean (1313 Dolley Madison, Suite 302) to collect her NRA questionnaire, which Merrick has promised multiple times to provide (although it should be noted that Merrick keeps moving the goalposts, first just saying she'd release it, then saying she'd ONLY release it if Barbara Favola released her AFL-CIO survey, which Favola did; then STILL not releasing the completed survey!). As you can see, Horwitz and Haas were not allowed in to the locked building, and Merrick staffers, who had been on the way out of the building, hightailed it back towards the elevator when they spotted Horwitz and Haas, who they're apparently terrified of at this point.

More background: Horwitz (Executive Director of CSGV) and Haas (mother of a Virginia Tech shooting survivor and Virginia coordinator for CSGV) have been attempting to get a copy of Merrick's NRA questionnaire for days now (again, as Merrick herself has promised multiple times to do!). Yesterday, they first stopped by Merrick's office -- which Merrick shares with Republican Delegate Barbara Comstock, another right wingnut - at 3 pm. At that time, Horwitz and Haas were told that there were no professional staff there, just volunteers (also note: Horwitz had called and asked when a good time to come pick up the survey, but nobody called him back). However, according to Horwitz, there clearly were professional staff there, possibly including a woman named Christina (claims to be a "volunteer" - who knows?) who you can see in the above video scurrying back to the elevator when she sees Horwitz and Haas. Also, Horwitz called at 4:30 pm, but Merrick staffers didn't answer the phone.

Now, on the "flip," find out what happens when Horwitz and Haas return at 6:30 pm last night to try once again to pick up Merrick's NRA questionnaire.

Video: Caren Merrick Really REALLY Dislikes Answering Simple Questions!


Following yesterday's 31st State Senate District debate at Rodef Shalom Synagogue in Falls Church, Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence attempts to ask Tea Party-endorsed Republican nominee Caren Merrick for her completed NRA questionnaire, which she had publicly promised (in the previous debate, and also in yesterday's debate) to provide him. Instead, Merrick refuses to even acknowledge Horwitz, while her campaign aides physically block him from approaching her as they claim to have a need to get through quickly. Merrick then stops, takes her sweet time having a leisurely conversation with someone (showing that she was NOT in a rush after all), then (appropriately) ducks out the back door.

One thing's for sure, with this kind of attitude - and the kind of behavior by her and by her staff we saw yesterday - Merrick's definitely in the right political party! Heh.

Tea Party Republican Caren Merrick Still Refuses to Release Her NRA...

On Wednesday night, Tea Party Republican Caren Merrick pledged - kind of, sort of, with her fingers crossed behind her back, no doubt - to make her NRA questionnaire public prior to the November 8 election. Of course, Merrick conveniently didn't say whether she'd release the questionnaire today, tomorrow, or more likely at 5:59 am on election day, when she can be sure that nobody will have a chance to know about her extreme answers. Of course, we DO know what was on that questionnaire, and we also know that to get an A- rating a candidate has to answer all, or nearly all, of these questions "correctly." With that, here's a press release I just received from Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws. I can guarantee you that Tea Party Republican Caren Merrick doesn't want you to read it.

ARLINGTON, October 21, 2011-Caren Merrick (R) and Barbara Favola (D), candidates for state Senate in Virginia's 31st District, faced questions about their positions on gun issues at a debate on Wednesday evening.  Of the two candidates, Merrick was the only one to respond to the National Rifle Association (NRA) 2011 Virginia Candidate Questionnaire.  Merrick was noncommittal when asked about releasing her NRA Questionnaire responses and has not provided a definitive response to follow up inquiries.

The debate was hosted by the Cherrydale (Arlington) Citizens Association. Omar Samaha-a resident of the 31st whose sister Reema was killed in the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007-asked Merrick how her A- rating from the NRA impacted her stance on the issue of whether there should be background checks for all gun sales in Virginia, including those at gun shows.  

Merrick responded that "I do have an A- grade from the NRA I think because I do believe in gun safety and responsible gun ownership." She then added, "We should have a background check. I think that we should have a background check. I think that that's true and I think that we should follow laws and as people break the gun laws then they should face the consequences of that." Favola told Samaha that she had an F grade from the NRA and was a strong supporter of universal background checks and other gun violence prevention policies, such as keeping guns out of recreation centers.

Favola-Merrick Debate in Arlington Reveals Stark Differences, Despite Merrick’s Dodging and...


I got back about an hour ago from the Cherrydale (Arlington) Citizens Association debate at the volunteer fire station. The two debates I watched were: 1) Democrat Mary Hynes vs. Green Party candidate Audrey Clement for Arlington County Board; and 2) Democrat Barbara Favola vs. Republican Caren Merrick for State Senate. I'm uploading video to YouTube now, and hopefully will have it in the morning, intertubes willing. ;) For now, just a few observations.

1. It was packed, standing room only (see photo on the "flip"), with the State Senate race clearly drawing the overwhelming proportion of passion and partisans.
2. I'd say that the crowd probably favored Favola, but certainly not by an overwhelming margin. Clearly, Caren Merrick encouraged her supporters to turn out (or perhaps they're more motivated/better organized than Favola's supporters?) and they did.
3. The debate between Favola and Merrick revealed stark differences between the candidates; that is, if and when anyone could manage to pin Merrick - who dodged, weaved, and avoided straight answers for the entire 1/2 hour - down on anything. Still, it's clear that Merrick is a right winger on social issues (e.g, anti-choice, anti-LGBT equality, pro-gun), and also a standard-issue anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government conservative in every other way. In contrast, Barbara Favola is clearly an Arlington Democrat in every sense of that phrase (and to me, that's a very good thing).
4. Merrick's certainly polished, but to be blunt, she's also a Class A b.s.'er (I wouldn't buy a used car from this woman, but she'd probably convince a lot of people to do so!). Of course, in politics, being a polished, slick b.s.'er can get you far, as long as people don't see through it or find you overly smarmy. We'll see how it works out for Merrick, who is as slick (I'd say smarmy, even insufferable, as she spews out typical right-wing blather about the glories of the market and evils of government) as they come.
5. Favola's definitely NOT slick, but she's clearly far more in tune with the 31st district on issue after issue, from a woman's right to choose to GLBT equality to raising revenues to pay for transportation improvements to her attitude towards government to...pretty much everything. On election day, this fundamental fact should carry her to victory, notwithstanding Merrick's significant cash advantage.
6. Finally, just a note about the County Board race (see photo on the "flip"). I thought that incumbent Mary Hynes (D) did fine, no stumbles or mistakes, which is what a hugely favored incumbent should do in a debate with an underfunded opponent. Green Party candidate Audrey Clement went after Hynes fairly aggressively, and articulately, on Arlington's growth policies, on the priorities of the County Board (which Clement views as misguided), and on the influence of real estate developers on the Board. We'll see if any of that resonates on November 8, but I didn't sense a groundswell at the forum tonight.

Caren Merrick Goes Big-Time Negative Against Barbara Favola

I figured the attack mailers were coming from Republican Caren Merrick against Democrat Barbara Favola here in the 31st State Senate District race, the only question was "when." Now, you all know I'm not the biggest Barbara Favola fan in the world, but of course I would never in a million years support an anti-choice, anti-GLBT-equality, anti-government, anti-environment, phony "moderate" Republican like Caren Merrick. Also, I've gotta say, the attacks that Merrick's now launching against Favola are utterly ridiculous; essentially, they're attacks on Arlington and on Democrats in general, as none of the votes/actions cited here were controversial in any way in (despite the Merrick mailer's absurdly slanted characterizations of those votes and actions). Of all things, Barbara Favola most certainly is not "extreme," but entirely "mainstream" for the values of this district (and, I'd add, no different on the issues that Jay Fisette, Chris Zimmerman, Mary Hynes, Walter Tejada, Patrick Hope, Mary Margaret Whipplet, etc.). Despite what Caren Merrick hysterically claims. Check out out the mailer, and as usual, click to "embiggen."

Also, please see the "flip" for more politics-as-usual, Republican ridiculousness by Caren Merrick, wherein Merrick claims that Favola's "throwing mud" by pointing out the truth (see ArlNow for scans of the Favola mailers) -- that Merrick is against a woman's right to choose, per her own admission. How exactly can it be "mud," or "negative," of Favola to mention it if Merrick's proud of her stance on the issue? Answer: it can't.

Finally, I've got to wonder, given that Merrick's been putting up a heck of a lot of signs in median strips and sending out a heck of a lot of mailers: does she really think she can win this solidly blue district, or is this all just being done in hopes of sucking up Democratic money and other resources in Arlington, so that they can't be used elsewhere? My guess is the latter, particularly since Merrick hasn't gone on broadcast TV, which she clearly can afford to do (and would, you'd think, if the race were within striking distance).

Republicans Go All Out for Caren Merrick in the 31st Senate...

Are Virginia Republicans seriously going to contest the (supposedly) safe Democratic 31st State Senate district (Arlington, McLean, Great Falls, a small part of eastern Loudoun County)?  Based on the glossy, 8-page mailer for Caren Merrick I received in the mail today (see page 1 to the left, and click to "embiggen"), paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia, it would sure seem so. I mean, this thing must have cost a s***-ton!

Also, note that the word "Republican" is never seen in the entire 8 pages, except on the back page in small print, where it says "paid for and authorized by..."  Other than that, it's all "new solutions and new leadership," "economic growth and jobs creation," "humble roots," "hard work" and "results."

Finally, note that in all of this glossy goodness, there is ZERO word about the following topics: abortion, gay rights, immigration, guns, "Obamacare," or just about any other divisive issue, social or otherwise, nowadays. Is this what Republicans like to refer to as "shock and awe?"

Again, the question is whether or not Republicans are serious about going all-out on this, are they just testing the waters, are they trying to spook Democrats, or what? Will we see mailers like this coming through November, or will this be a one-shot deal? I don't know, but I do know that Democrats just finished a rough primary, and that the Democratic nominee came out of it pretty much broke. On the other hand, the 31st Senate district still - in spite of being made 9.7 points more Republican in redistricting - was one of Bob McDonnell's worst in 2009 (he won 44.4% of the vote). So, bottom line, I'm not really sure what to conclude here. What do you think? Also, to see the rest of the glossy mailer, click here. Thanks.

P.S. I was also wondering, no matter how much deceptive mail Caren Merrick puts out, hiding the fact that she's a Republican, how many people in the 31st Senate district won't know that fact by the end of this campaign?