The clock has started ticking. And, thus far, Arlington Republicans have yet to find any takers when it comes to candidates for the more than a dozen offices on the November ballot.
“It’s an uphill battle to recruit candidates – it takes a lot. We struggle,” acknowledged Matthew Hurtt, communications director for the Arlington County Republican Committee, at the organization’s Jan. 30 meeting.
The local GOP has until June to get its act – er, its ticket – together. So perhaps it’s not yet time for a red alert.
But a lack of candidates out of the gate suggests it could be hard for Republicans to field anything close to a full slate for the positions on the Arlington ballot this fall:
• Two County Board seats.
• A School Board seat.
• Three House of Delegates seats.
• Two state Senate seats.
• Five constitutional offices (treasurer, commonwealth’s attorney, commissioner of revenue, sheriff and clerk of the Circuit Court).
“Our first priority ought to be to get at least one candidate for each office,” said Rich Samp, who at the start of the new year began a three-year term as a Republican appointee to the Arlington Electoral Board.
Candidate recruitment has been a challenge for Republicans in Arlington ever since Democrats became the community’s dominant political party in the 1980s.
And sometimes even when the GOP does find contenders, they are unknowns or don’t make a particularly good impression on the electorate.
“Voters in Arlington are very educated,” Hurtt said. “They don’t take kindly to fly-by-night candidates who arrive and then vanish.”
There have been a few bright spots, however.
In 2021, Republicans fielded candidates for the four (since redistricted down to three) House of Delegates seats that included portions of Arlington. Those candidates got trounced – as expected – but having them on the ballot may have brought out enough additional Republican voters that it aided the GOP’s statewide ticket for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, which won by a tight margin.
While Republicans are looking for candidates, the Arlington County Democratic Committee already has contested battles for County Board, sheriff and commonwealth’s attorney. The party will select its nominees for those slots, and any others that may be contested before the filing deadline, in a June primary.
Though an uphill battle for Republicans, making a bid for office in Arlington doesn’t have to be the equivalent of a root canal without Novocain, Hurtt said.
“The committee will make it as easy as possible for you to run,” he said.