31st state Senate race

Arlington County Democratic Committee chairman Jill Caiazzo (left) introduces 31st District state Senate candidates Nicole Merlene and Barbara Favola at an April 13, 2019, candidate forum.

[UPDATED to include withdrawal of independent candidate for commonwealth’s attorney on Wednesday morning.]

Money can’t buy you love, as the Beatles sang, but apparently it does the trick when running for elected office these days.

Buoyed by oodles of out-of-state political-action-committee cash, Parisa Tafti narrowly defeated the incumbent commonwealth’s attorney for Arlington and Falls Church, Theo Stamos, based on complete but unofficial reports.

The final unofficial tally was 14,828 votes, or 52 percent, for Tafti to 13,700 for Stamos. Tafti won both Arlington and Falls Church by relatively similar percentages to the overall total.

Tafti, who has no experience as a prosecutor and ran significantly to the left of the eight-year incumbent in a race that was heated from the start, benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign support from a PAC boosted by financier George Soros.

Democratic-leaning voters were inundated with campaign mailers, online ads and even television advertising from the Tafti campaign, which significantly out-spent Stamos.

Stamos supporters were hopeful that in the last weeks of the campaign, a tide of revulsion about the spending levels would set in and take their candidate to victory. But it was not to be.

Stamos had a number of problems she was unable to surmount, including her support for Republican-backed independent John Vihstadt in 2014 and 2018 Arlington County Board races, and positions about jurisprudence that seemed out of line with the increasingly leftward tilt of the Democratic electorate.

No Republicans filed to run in the general election, but an independent did get his paperwork in under the June 11 filing deadline. Then, when it became clear Stamos had lost, Frank Webb on Wednesday morning withdrew his paperwork.

Four years ago, Webb filed to take on Stamos but did not meet all the filing requirements and was kept off the ballot.

Favola Comes Out Victorious: It may not have been a slam-dunk performance, but state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st) has beaten back a Democratic primary challenge by Nicole Merlene.

Favola was leading handily as the votes rolled in across the district, which includes portions of Arlington, McLean, Great Falls and a sliver of northeastern Loudoun County. Favola picked up 62 percent of the vote.

The two-term legislator, who previously had served on the Arlington County Board, survived criticism from Merlene that she used her position as a legislator to aid her private career as a consultant.

Favola was first elected to the upper house of the legislature in 2011, first winning a primary race against Jaime Areizaga-Soto. In that general election, Favola easily won what had been anticipated to be a close race against Republican Caren Merrick.

Favola did not face a significant re-election threat in 2015.

Lopez Handles Primary Challenge with Ease:  Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th) brushed back a challenge by Julius Spain Sr. in the Democratic primary, and will be unopposed in the November general election.

Lopez, now in his fourth two-year term in office, garnered 77 percent of the vote. The 49th District includes much of Arlington along and south of Columbia Pike, as well as adjacent areas of Fairfax County west to Seven Corners.

Spain, the current president of the Arlington NAACP, attempted to paint Lopez as out of touch with constituents in the district, but was unable to muster significant financial support to make his case to voters.

Goldstein to Be Unopposed in November: Arlington School Board Chairman Reid Goldstein will be unopposed for re-election in November, as no challengers emerged to file by the June 11 deadline.

Goldstein earlier defeated David Priddy by a 2-to-1 margin in the Democratic caucus to move on to the Nov. 5 general election. He is in the fourth year of his first term, and has served as chairman since last July.

There had been speculation that at least one late-in-the-game candidate might file before the deadline, but the 7 p.m. deadline passed with no takers.

Field of Four Set for County Board Race: It will be a field of four in November in the Arlington County Board seats.

Democrats Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol will be joined by independents Audrey Clement and Arron O’Dell, who were the only non-Democrats to file by the June 11 deadline.

Dorsey and Cristol currently are completing their first four-year terms, and had no opposition within the Democratic ranks this year.

Clement has made multiple runs for County Board and School Board. O’Dell is making his first bid for office.


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