Monday, August 8, 2011

David Englin Endorses Jaime Areizaga-Soto, Decries "Good Old Boy" Mentality

The Democratic Primary in the 31st State Senate District has been getting fairly heated. Some would even say that some of those involved in the race are getting rather petty. One example of the pettiness in the campaign is how Barbara Favola made a stink after one of the debates and refused to shake Jaime Areizaga-Soto’s hand, which is what most respectful candidates do even in the middle of the most heated campaigns (anybody remember Sarah Palin asking Biden if she could call him Joe while shaking his hand at the VP debate in 2008?). The pettiness by some of those in the Favola camp doesn’t end there. After having previously made public statements lavishing praise on Areizaga-Soto’s time in public supporters, one of Favola’s key supporter has now flip flopped on that statement because he’s making grounds on Favola. Despite those previous statements, this Favola supporter has now tried to belittle Jaime’s public service by implying that he was just an intern -- a statement obviously meant to imply he’s a liar that inflates his resume and doesn’t have the experience to serve.

This truly is a shame because a Democratic primary should be an opportunity to build up campaign infrastructures that could serve progressive candidates and causes in the future. Just look at what Jim Webb’s campaign did in Virginia back in 2006 (the Brigades formed from many of his supporters and is still influential in Northern Virginia). While I believe Jaime is the better candidate in this race, Favola does bring some positive traits to the table and obviously brings some of the more establishment types into the fold. I therefore believe we could have seen a positive discussion about the two candidates that really motivated various factions of the Democratic Party -- something we really need after two very tough years for Democrats in Virginia. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened and we now are looking at a lot of people who are simply frustrated with the behavior we’ve seen from certain people.

Delegate David Englin is one of those who has expressed frustration with the way things are going. In a statement endorsing Jaime Areizaga-Soto, David not only spoke about Jaime’s qualifications but lashed out at some of Favola’s biggest supporters by saying their behavior “smacks of an earlier era of ‘good old boy’ Virginia Democratic politics that most of us soundly rejected long ago.”
The most senior Democratic leaders in the Virginia Senate continue to attack and belittle Areizaga-Soto, who would be the first Latino elected to the Virginia Senate, because he has the nerve to seek his party's nomination against their hand-picked choice. They are so incensed by his candidacy that they have spent tens of thousands of dollars to attack him that could otherwise be used to defend their tenuous Democratic majority. This smacks of an earlier era of "good old boy" Virginia Democratic politics that most of us soundly rejected long ago. I have nothing against the other candidate in this race, Barbara Favola, with whom I have enjoyed working on Arlington County issues over the years. But the seat she and Areizaga-Soto seek belongs to the people of the 31st District, not to party bosses or the retiring incumbent to bequeath to the successor of their choice.
It’s worth looking at what David has to say here because he is a Member of the House of Delegates who has generally been highly respected by both the grassroots and the establishment. As a relatively young rising star in the Democratic Party, he also has a good chance of moving up in the party leadership. He therefore also has a lot to lose by speaking out so publicly while criticizing some of his colleagues in the General Assembly. As a result, his statement carries a lot more weight than some of the other folks who have been outspoken in their opposition to the behavior we’ve seen in this race.

I not only agree with David’s endorsement of Jaime Areizaga-Soto’s candidacy, but I strongly encourage everyone to take his statement to heart. When the evening August 23 rolls around, after all, we will have a Democratic nominee and we’ll need to rally behind our candidate. That will be a lot easier to do if we don’t have to get over folks putting pettiness and a “good old boy” type mentality ahead of progressive values in the final weeks of the primary.

You can check out David Englin’s full statement below “the fold.”

As a progressive leader in the General Assembly, I generally do not endorse Democratic primary candidates in districts where I cannot vote, and I've been especially hesitant to comment on the 31st District Senate primary because my wife is a paid consultant for one of the candidates, Jaime Areizaga-Soto. However, my simmering anger at how my own party's leaders in the Virginia Senate are handling this race has boiled over, and I can no longer remain silent.

Jaime Areizaga-Soto is a Georgetown and Stanford-educated attorney and a U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, whom President Obama appointed to a high-level position at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He served as a White House Fellow -- one of our nation's most prestigious programs for leadership and public service, whose alumni include distinguished Americans like Wesley Clark, Colin Powell, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. On top of all that, he's an Eagle Scout who is fluent in four languages. Yet the retiring incumbent, who just months ago introduced Areizaga-Soto to her constituents as a valued policy adviser, now claims he was a mere intern in her office and accuses him of inflating his resume. Since when does a 41-year-old who is an accomplished attorney, a lieutenant colonel, an Obama Administration appointee, and a White House Fellow need to inflate his resume?

The most senior Democratic leaders in the Virginia Senate continue to attack and belittle Areizaga-Soto, who would be the first Latino elected to the Virginia Senate, because he has the nerve to seek his party's nomination against their hand-picked choice. They are so incensed by his candidacy that they have spent tens of thousands of dollars to attack him that could otherwise be used to defend their tenuous Democratic majority. This smacks of an earlier era of "good old boy" Virginia Democratic politics that most of us soundly rejected long ago. I have nothing against the other candidate in this race, Barbara Favola, with whom I have enjoyed working on Arlington County issues over the years. But the seat she and Areizaga-Soto seek belongs to the people of the 31st District, not to party bosses or the retiring incumbent to bequeath to the successor of their choice.

I urge Democrats in Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun to vote for Jaime Areizaga-Soto for Senate on August 23rd, both because he will be a thoughtful, progressive champion for our entire community, and to send a message that the Democratic Party is still the open, inclusive party of good government we have worked so hard together to build.

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