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About six in 10 Arlington Republicans responding to a survey by the county GOP want the party to support an independent for County Board in November.
But the respondents were split on whom that should be.
Republicans this year did not field a candidate for the County Board seat currently occupied by Democrat Takis Karantonis, who is seeking a full four-year term after winning a special election in mid-2020.
Asked whether the party should support one of the three independents taking on the incumbent, 40.2 percent said no or they weren’t sure. Among those who had a preference for an endorsement, 29.9 percent said the GOP should back Michael Cantwell, 23.9 percent said the party should back Adam Theo and 6 percent said the party’s support should go to Audrey Clement.
The three independents have be invited to the Arlington County Republican Committee’s monthly meeting on Sept. 28, party officials said. (Having the party support Karantonis was not an option offered in the survey.)
Given the state of the current political situation in Arlington, Karantonis is virtually guaranteed re-election, particularly with three opponents splitting up the anti-Democratic vote. But Republican support was helpful in 2014 when independent John Vihstadt used a coalition of Republicans, the Arlington Green Party and disaffected Democrats to win two elections in succession (spring and fall) to the County Board.
Four years later, Vihstadt opted to keep his distance from both the Republicans and Greens, a strategy that may have harmed his re-election bid. He ended up being defeated by Democrat Matt de Ferranti.
Republicans did field a candidate in the 2020 special election to succeed County Board member Erik Gutshall, who had died in office. But that candidate – Bob Cambridge – was largely ineffectual on the stump and garnered less than 5 percent of the vote in a race that largely boiled down to Karantonis against Vihstadt-backed independent Susan Cunningham.