Arlington GOP chairman Jim Presswood

Arlington County Republican Committee chairman Jim Presswood speaks at the Feb. 28, 2018, meeting.

The Arlington County Republican Committee will enter 2019 on a hunt for prospective candidates – and a hunt for a new chairman, too.

Jim Presswood, who has chaired the GOP for nearly three years, announced recently he would be stepping down halfway through his second two-year term due to commitments at work.

In the interim, vice chairman Graham Plaster is serving as chairman until a leadership election is organized.

“I have enjoyed serving,” Presswood said in a statement. “I also value the new friends I’ve made. I plan to stay quite involved in committee activities, so this is not a farewell.”

Presswood, who then was leading the Arlington GOP’s precinct-operations effort, was elected party chair in 2016, succeeding Matt Wavro. During his tenure, he focused on candidate recruitment and building coalitions and visibility throughout the community.

Both of those efforts have proved challenges, particular since the 2016 general election, in which Donald Trump scored just 17 percent of the Arlington vote, significantly lower than previous presidential candidates.

Having Trump on the ballot seemed to tarnish the party’s brand among the local electorate, while the hard-right campaign by U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart in 2018 appears to have further alienated Arlingtonians from the GOP brand.

But there will be plenty of opportunities for prospective candidates in 2019, with two County Board seats, a School Board seat, five General Assembly seats and four constitutional offices on the Arlington ballot.

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