The Arlington County Democratic Committee went with the more centrist option on Jan. 5, electing Steve Baker to a two-year term as party chair.
Baker defeated Matt Royer in the balloting, held at the party’s biennial reorganization meeting.
Baker promised to use his leadership post as “a collaboration and a partnership” and “keep Arlington Democrats a big-tent party.”
“The work we do here is so important,” he said during a last-minute appeal for votes at the organizational meeting.
In 2018, Baker – having served a two-year stint as deputy chair – sought the chairmanship but lost to Jill Caiazzo. She then was re-elected without opposition in 2020 and, following party tradition, did not seek a third term.
Caiazzo remained neutral in the race to succeed her; “there are no bad choices here,” she said at the meeting.
Baker, who has been a member of the Democratic Committee for about 15 years, founded the Beyond Arlington initiative, which uses the organization’s resources to assist in races across the commonwealth and around the nation. During the campaign for chair, he positioned himself as a force of stability who would bring evolution, not revolution, to the party’s operations.
Royer was more aggressive on the stump and pushed a more progressive agenda.
“We have to adapt; we cannot keep doing the same thing,” he said. “We need to give the people a reason to vote for us, not just against the other guy.”
Sharing his party’s dismay at Democratic reverses in Virginia last year, Royer said there was no time to wallow.
“I’m not taking it lying down,” he said of the Republican resurgence. “Democrats will get right back up.”
The organizational meeting at Lubber Run Community Center drew a large turnout to vote for chair and a number of other contested races.
“We have a great crowd,” Caiazzo said. “This is what I love about Arlington Democrats – there are so many committed, passionate people out there.”
At the meeting, Michael Hemminger was elected deputy chair without opposition. He succeeds Maggie Davis.