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Thursday, March 30, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: Parsing the campaign kickoffs

Editor’s Notebook: Parsing the campaign kickoffs

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The Arlington County Democratic Committee had a bigger matter on its plate last week (the School Board caucus contretemps), but the two candidates who kicked off their 2022 campaigns deserve a little of kindly Uncle Scott’s feedback on their performance – both praise and perhaps just a little constructive criticism.

Both Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti and 8th Congressional District challenger Victoria Virasingh would score a “pass” on a pass-fail grading system. Each kept to the time limit, made their points and didn’t say anything that drew raised eyebrows.

So that’s the good news. Now on to our favorite part – the constructive criticism!

Not much of that for de Ferranti, except that it seemed his remarks were more a laundry list of subject areas rather than a speech that had a cohesive theme. Doesn’t deserve too many demerits, but next time (say, in September at candidate forums), hopefully his stump speech will be a little more taut and thematic.


As for Virasingh, she did fine but she also failed what is known to those of us veterans of the local scene as the “Al Eisenberg test.”

Big Al, when he was serving on the Arlington County Board, frequently used to ask those (whether in the public, on staff or up on the dais with him) who posited a proposition: “What’s the problem we are trying to solve?” It was, at times, a brutally effective retort, particularly at derailing proposals that, in fact, had no particular rationale for enactment.

Kindly Uncle Scotty, who frankly has now referred to himself in the third person at least once too often in this missive, always tells those who are going up against incumbents, particularly within their own party, to lay out, clearly, what the incumbent is doing to merit – nay, require – being ousted. And yet very, very few seem willing to take that plunge.

In fact, Virasingh didn’t even mention the name of U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, who presumably is running for re-election, let alone explain what he was doing wrong while in office.

Alas, and this is not directed at Virasingh specifically but at all challengers, if you’re not going to tell voters why the incumbent has to go, those voters not going to give him (or her, or whatever) the ol’ heave-ho.

To sum up: No unforced errors or cringeworthy moments from the two announcer-inos, but definitely at least a little room for improvement.

OFF TO THE RACES, MASK-WISE: It had to start somewhere, and the footrace (or perhaps marathon) that will eventually get to a conclusion over masking in Northern Virginia schools began in the courtroom of Arlington Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo, who on Friday issued a preliminary injunction against the governor in this case.

Probably no surprise; I would have bet a dollar, maybe two, that the first court ruling would favor the localities. Not because a judge was being political, but because he or she was being cautious.

The eventual ruling will come from the Virginia Supreme Court. Whichever way the lower courts rule probably will not have much bearing on the end result.

But this is a good time to mention that the few times I’ve spent time with her, I’ve come away as a fan of Judge DiMatteo. Fortunately, it’s never been as a defendant 🙂

– Scott McCaffrey

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