… Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria-Arlington-Fairfax), at least in terms of performance in the May 2 League of Women Voters of Arlington debate against his challenger in the 45th House District primary, Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.
[CLICK HERE for news coverage of the debate.]
Both candidates were given seven minutes for opening statements (a monumentally long time, but one which for these and other races seemed to move along speedily enough). And Bennett-Parker failed the Kindly Uncle Scotty test of politics – if you’re running to oust somebody, you’d better tell the electorate WHY that person needs to be ousted.
Perhaps Bennett-Parker, who is riding high on endorsements, thinks she doesn’t have to get down into the dirt and can cruise to success by hitting all the progressive talking points and reciting her own personal story. That could prove to be a fatal mistake; Levine has snuck up behind those who thought they had elections in the bag, before, and snatched victory away from them. You count him out at your peril, particularly since a good chunk of the district will be showing up to vote for governor on June 8 and is likely to see “Re-Elect Levine” signage and sample ballots and just go with that, since they’re not terribly informed on the local race.
Levine, in the debate, presented himself (rightly or wrongly) as an effective legislator with a constituent-centric focus. He kind of lost me when he contended that constituents had “begged” him (his word) to run for re-election to his House seat even though he also is running for lieutenant governor. Not sure his, or any, constituents are that engaged.
Anyhoo, I score this one a victory, though not a knockout or even TKO, by Levine. Bennett-Parker needs to be more direct with the voters about her reasons for seeking the removal of Levine.
MEANWHILE, IN THE 49th: Karishma Mehta, who is challenging Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington-Fairfax) in the June 8 Democratic primary, seemed likeable enough (borrowing from Barack Obama), but is so far left it makes Lopez look like a raging moderate by comparison.
(Ah, Margaret Thatcher, time to whip out a paraphrase of your memorable line: The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money to spend. And when that day of reckoning finally arrives in the U.S. of A., where both Republicans and Democrats are addicted to deficit spending, it’s going to be a whopper of a calamity. But I digress ….)
But give Mehta credit – unlike Bennett-Parker above, she was less shy about criticizing her opponent, although she was not quite as direct about it as a longshot candidate probably should be.
This one is shaping up to be a 75%-25% (ish) race; Lopez has his detractors in the district and they will vote for anyone who is on the ballot against him, but it’s a relatively small cadre. Incumbency, name recognition and endorsements appear likely to help carry the incumbent to victory.
HEADLINE OF THE YEAR? From the monthly Beacon newspaper, geared at the 55+ group: “Bitterness Gets an Undeserved Bad Rap.”
Amen to that! Oh, wait, it was talking about bitter foods, like arugula, frisee and rapini….
- Scott McCaffrey