Many moons ago, there was a vocal Arlington civic activist who postulated the theory that everything that took place in Arlington governance (and he did not approve of most of it) was the result of a behind-the-scenes cabal consisting of Chris Zimmerman (then on the County Board), Rich Doud (then president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce) and … me?
Yep, me, apparently that oh-so-great Wizard of Oz helping to pull all the levers of power from behind the curtain.
I related that story during Rich Doud’s retirement party at Fort Myer (also lo those many moons ago), and told the assembled movers-and-or-shakers that it tickled me for two reasons.
First, because it is nice to be perceived as a power behind the throne, as inaccurate as that was. (Chris Zimmerman taking my advice? Or Rich Doud’s? Hardly likely.) And second, because it’s pretty darn rare than in any group of three people, I’m the tallest. It was pretty close for all three of us, but I was the winner there.
Fast-forward to 2022, and I tuned in to find myself berated at Saturday’s County Board meeting public-comment session by board candidate Audrey Clement. Well, “berated” is perhaps a tad much; even when sticking in a political shiv, Ms. Clement is invariably polite. But she seemed to suggest that, again, I was exerting excessive influence through the Sun Gazette’s editorial page, which endorsed (albeit not in the most rousing endorsement in our history) Democratic incumbent Matt de Ferranti.
(De Ferranti also got ripped by Clement during the public-comment period. For the record, I’m the shortest in this grouping of two, or of three if you count Clement. Such is my usual lot in life.)
The endorsement of de Ferranti, which to keep things straight is the institutional opinion of the newspaper and not of me personally, did note that this could have been Clement’s year as she’s got a true wedge issue to exploit, but she chooses not to build coalitions and raise money during her frequent runs for elected office.
In a blog posting this week, I posited – and believe it to be accurate – that Clement could in fact double her vote totals, or at least increase them to beyond the 30-percent ceiling she’s often had in the past, if she hoovered up some campaign cash and used it to spread her message into the homes of voters.
And it appears Team Clement is listening and reacting, albeit perhaps grudgingly, as she’s announced an upcoming fund-raising event at a local residence on Oct. 22. This is boilerplate campaigning for many candidates, but for Clement it’s a rarity.
And perhaps it shows that she senses blood in the political water; the same e-mail that announced the fund-raiser also proclaimed the Nov. 8 vote to be a referendum on the Missing Middle housing policy. If you don’t like Missing Middle and the way county leaders are pushing it – and the county government’s own surveys show that large majorities of those in existing single-family neighborhoods do not – then vote for Clement, she said.
Fair enough. A sharpened message and some campaign cash to get it out there may indeed help her candidacy, if time does not run out.
As for me being the all-powerful Oz? Too much hassle. To borrow a phrase from Rush Limbaugh, I’m just a harmless fuzzball.
– Scott McCaffrey