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Friday, February 3, 2023
ArlingtonOpinionSun Gazette endorsements: House races in the 45th, 49th

Sun Gazette endorsements: House races in the 45th, 49th

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Personal affection to varying degrees aside, nobody’s going to accuse us of being enamored with most of the policy positions of the Arlington delegation to the House of Delegates.

Occasionally there is agreement, but in general we think the local delegates have tacked too far to the left. If that comes back to hurt Democrats in the fall elections, perhaps there will be some return to centrism. We’ll see.

In two of the House of Delegates districts that incorporate portions of Arlington, incumbent Democrats are facing opposition (Dels. Patrick Hope and Rip Sullivan are not facing challenges). Given that the Democratic primary on June 8 is likely to be the de-facto election for the two contested races, it’s a case of speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace. So we’ll speak now:

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45th DISTRICT: Incumbent Mark Levine and challenger Elizabeth Bennett-Parker each has committed what we consider a cardinal sin this campaign season:

• Levine is running simultaneously for renomination to his House seat and for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. It may end up being a huge mistake for the incumbent, who first was elected in 2015; such double-dipping is not something we countenance.

• Bennett-Parker – the vice mayor of Alexandria – has, in the debates we have watched and the campaign material she has distributed, failed to give voters a reason why Levine should be sent packing. And as we have said numerous times over the decades, challengers better not be shy about that; if they won’t explain to voters why the incumbent needs to go, we tend to stick with the incumbent.

Given those two issues, given that their broad policy positions are largely interchangeable, and given that Levine outperformed Bennett-Parker in one of the debates we watched, this is a tough one to vet.

But Bennett-Parker’s local-government role is perhaps the seminal tie-breaker. She seems to be appreciated by Arlington’s elected officials, which tells us she might be more collaborative than Levine, who does (despite what we are sure will be his howls of indignation at the suggestion) seem to like to take credit for any legislative achievement, no matter how tangential his role may have been.

If Levine had opted, at any time in recent months, to eschew the run for lieutenant governor in order to protect his current position (an action taken by the equally imperiled Del. Elizabeth Gúzman of Prince William County some weeks back), we’d be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt – and our endorsement.

But he opted to carry on with simultaneous races, and in the end, that’s proved a deal-breaker. We’ll go with ELIZABETH BENNETT-PARKER as our preferred choice.

49th DISTRICT: Veteran legislator Alfonso Lopez is being challenged by Karishma Mehta, a preschool teacher who has managed to make Lopez seem almost centrist compared to her far-left, “Squad”-infused ideology.

It’s been interesting to watch political newbie Mehta in action, and she has not embarrassed herself or become a caricature of her views. But this is not a close call for us and we don’t think it will be a close call for the voters.

ALFONSO LOPEZ is the better choice for residents of the district.

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