Here in Sun Gazette-land, we have two reasonably iron-clad rules when it comes to campaign kickoffs for those seeking office in the PRA (People’s Republic of A-town):
• If the contender is running as a Democrat, we don’t start the clock running, counting the campaign as “official,” until the kickoff announcement at the Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, and …
• If one is a challenger seeking to unseat an incumbent, we expect that the challenger will use that forum to explain WHY the incumbent needs to be removed. Simply mouthing platitudes about one’s own reasons for running is not enough.
And so, we’ll be waiting until the April 7 Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting to give much coverage to Chanda Choun, who got in just under the wire and filed for County Board, where he will face off against incumbent Takis Karantonis in the June 8 primary.
The more the merrier – while his contesting the otherwise unopposed Karantonis probably will not go down well with the Democratic leadership (or with Karantonis supporters), it’s never a bad thing from a public-policy view to have an exchange of ideas.
However, we’re doubtful that Choun will use his kickoff to explain what he believes Karantonis is doing wrong. We didn’t see that in the Choun campaign announcement, and few candidates are willing to be so blunt.
Yet, if you’re not willing to make the case AGAINST the incumbent’s re-election bid while also making the case FOR your own, it makes a contender come off as something of a political dilettante. Choun, in the eyes of some in the political establishment, is beginning to veer awfully close.
(As an aside, I have probably not used the phrase “political dilettante” since the 2009 House of Delegates primary in the 47th District, referring to Miles Grant, who finished fourth in a field of five despite aspirations of a better result. But on with our story ….)
Don’t forget (as I’m sure Karantonis supporters will make sure you don’t) that last year, Choun started out challenging incumbent Democrat Libby Garvey in the primary, then switched mid-stream to run in the special election won by Karantonis, finishing in the middle of that pack.
In fact, it probably was Choun voters, via the instant-runoff format, that helped get Karantonis over the finish line against Kanninen.
As for Karantonis, while he won the Democratic caucus and subsequent special election last summer to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall, remember that the only reason he came out on top in the Democratic nominating process was because of instant-runoff procedures. Had there been a winner-take-all format, as there will be in this primary, Karantonis would have finished second to Barbara Kanninen.
That suggests Karantonis is not impregnable, but the power of incumbency traditionally proves a strong magnet for Arlington voters. And while Karantonis has a more cerebral than visceral appeal, it is an appeal nonetheless.
In any event, we’ll pick up the matter when the April 7 ACDC meeting rolls around. And it will be curious to see where other local elected officials come down on this race. Endorsements from politicians do not always mean all that much, but they can be telling in trying to psychoanalyze, politically and personally, the endorsers.
And hey, it’s going to be an interesting primary day indeed: Karantonis is being challenged, Patrick Hope is being challenged, Alfonso Lopez is being challenged, Mark Levine is being challenged, and in nearby McLean, Del. Kathleen is being challenged. All that on top of the statewide races on the Democratic side.
THE SIMPLEST SOLUTION: Members of the Arlington Electoral Board last week fielded a request from residents of the Green Valley community, asking that their local precinct – called “Glebe” – be renamed “Drew.”
This doesn’t have anything to do with the current woke-focused renaming mania sweeping Arlington; voting at the precinct takes place at Charles Drew Elementary School, so the name change makes perfect sense, especially when you consider there is another precinct (Woodlawn) that votes at Glebe Elementary School.
Electoral Board members seemed to have no quibbles with the proposal, but suggested that, for a variety of reasons, it would make more sense to wait until 2022 to implement. Everybody seemed on board with that.
Electoral Board members also noted that A-town is somewhat unique in giving precincts names as well as numbers. And there was a suggestion, briefly touched upon at the meeting, to simply do away with the names altogether.
Free advice (and worthy every penny!) from kindly Uncle Scotty: That’s the route to take.
There are a lot of names among those 54 precincts that could give offense to the easily offended (and everyone seems “easily offended” these days, except me of course — I’m cranky, but not easily offended). Election officials could avoid all that by stripping the names out entirely.
– Scott McCaffrey