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ArlingtonAfter candidate withdrawal, Democrats nix School Board caucus

After candidate withdrawal, Democrats nix School Board caucus

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And that’s a wrap on this year’s Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus.

The decision by candidate Brandon Clark to withdraw from the endorsement race leaves only Bethany Sutton seeking the party’s nod, and that means that planned caucus – to be held over four days in June – is canceled.

The decision by Clark, a teacher in the school system, to drop out after launching his bid a month before does not mean the endorsement is automatically Sutton’s. She will need to win support of the Democratic Committee’s rank-and-file at its June meeting.

Sutton is chair of the Arlington school system’s Advisory Council on Teaching and Learning. She and Clark were the only two candidates to file for Democratic backing before the party’s April 27 deadline.

If she wins the endorsement, Sutton will be on the Democratic sample ballot in November, virtually assuring her as the successor to current School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen, who is not seeking a third four-year term. If she does not receive the endorsement, Sutton still could run as an independent.

Several independent candidates have filed paperwork to run in the general election; the filing deadline is June 21.

Under Virginia law, School Board seats officially are nonpartisan. While political parties cannot formally nominate candidates, they can endorse contenders – often a distinction without a significant difference.

The departure of Clark frees Arlington Democrats of the logistical complexities involved in conducting the caucus, held at four separate venues across Arlington. It was slated to have been the party’s first in-person caucus vote since 2019, owing to pandemic conditions.

In recent months, the caucus itself had come under fire from individuals and groups attempting to have it either eliminated or radically redesigned.

The Arlington County Democratic Committee’s membership voted down that idea, but did agree to some modest revisions in the caucus process, which would have first been put in place for the now canceled 2022 caucus.

Democrats already have their County Board nominee selected, as incumbent Matt de Ferranti did not pick up an intra-party challenge, thus avoiding a June 21 primary. Democrats will, however, go to the polls that day to decide whether U.S. Rep. Don Beyer or challenger Victoria Virasingh should be the party’s nominee in the 8th Congressional District.

Republicans will pick their nominee for the 8th District in a May 21 convention, and have until late June to scare up a candidate for County Board.

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