Top Dems Descend on Little City This Weekend in Charged Election Year

June 6, 2018 8:11 PM0 comments

DEL. MARCUS SIMON addressed a town hall in Falls Church about this spring’s legislative session in April. He provided an interview to the News-Press this week and will be at the City Democrats’ potluck this Sunday. (Photo: News-Press)

It may seem a bit counterintuitive that on the eve of a June 12 primary in the City of Falls Church in which only Republicans are on a very small ballot, leading Democrats are flocking to the City this weekend.

But while it’s more coincidental than anything else, it’s a tribute to the extent that Democrats have dominated the political landscape in the Little City for many years.

Tuesday, the lone race that will appear on ballot for those who chose to vote will be three Republican challengers seeking their party’s nomination to run against incumbent U.S. Senator Tim Kaine in the November general election. Kaine tops the list of Democrats due here this Sunday.

In neighboring Fairfax County there are other races on the ballot, most importantly the Democratic primary in the 10th Congressional District, running across the northern parts of the county from McLean into Loudoun County, where Democrats are targeting incumbent Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock for defeat.

Six Democratic candidates are vying for their party’s nomination in that race, but the heavy favorite is State Sen. Jennifer Wexton of Loudoun, endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

The GOP candidates on the tiny ballot in Falls Church for the chance to run against Kaine are Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas and E. W. Jackson, none of whom is given good odds of defeating the incumbent.

The big news in Falls Church this weekend is the full court press of Democratic elected officials due here on Sunday, June 10, at the local Democratic committee’s annual potluck that will include Sen. Kaine, U.S. Rep. Don Beyer who is running unopposed this year, State Sen. Dick Saslaw and State Del. Marcus Simon, all of whom represent Falls Church in their respective legislative bodies.

The Falls Church event is unique among comparables in the region for being a potluck in the City’s modest community center rather than a “rubber chicken” sit down gala event at a big hotel. The food, the politicians who attend Falls Church potlucks always say, is far better here for that reason. Also, the City’s Commissioner of the Revenue Tom Clinton always personally commandeering the libations table is a plus.

But the event is being highly anticipated for the display of high energy and enthusiasm due to Democrats’ gains in the state legislature this spring — most significantly their successful effort, at last, to extend Medicaid coverage to another 400,000 Virginians under the federal Affordable Care Act — and expectations of making major gains in the U.S. Congress this year and other major challenges to President Trump going forward.

Del. Simon, in an exclusive interview with the News-Press this week said he doesn’t think the enthusiasm among Democrats has waned since the election last fall when the more modest predictions of him and others were dashed by a veritable Democratic tidal wave that almost swept the Republicans out of control of the House of Delegates in Richmond, and led the way to the historic adoption of Medicaid benefits for 400,000 after five years of frustration this spring.

Simon said he saw the signs of that Democratic tsunami, but doubted his senses, saying to himself if couldn’t be that strong. So, he believed it when commentators were saying that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Northam was “blowing it” in his race. But Northam wound up winning handily. Therefore, this time, Simon’s guarding against that self-doubting tendency and saying he expects major gains by Democrats all across the U.S., including in Virginia, where not only Rep. Comstock, but other Republicans are at risk of being run out of office this fall.

He cited as “flippable” the cases of the Freedom Caucus’ Rep. David Brat in the 7th District north of Richmond, Rep. Scott Taylor in the 2nd District in Virginia Beach, and the 5th District in central Virginia that includes the progressive enclave of Charlottesville where the incumbent Republican congressman Tom Garrett recently announced he would not seek re-election in the wake of a scandal and the GOP rushed into a five-hour meeting last weekend to replace him with former air force intelligence officer Denver Riggleman.

Simon is now predicting that Democrats will win control of both the U.S. House and Senate in November.

In comments to the News-Press Tuesday night, former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, in the area to speak at a forum hosted by the Newseum, cautioned against the Democrats focusing on the prospect of impeaching the president, as it would run the risk of driving away many who might otherwise tend to support them.

Frank said he agreed with the position of Sen. Kaine who voted with the majority recently to modify Franks’ landmark Dodd-Frank legislation to rein in the big banks in the wake of the financial meltdown of a decade ago.

He said the changes were minor from the standpoint of the biggest banks, who nonetheless opposed the revisions just as they’d opposed the original bill. The revisions are limited to easing up some lending requirements for smaller banks to smaller customers, he said.

Looking beyond this November’s election, Del. Simon said he’s also expecting the Democratic wave to continue into the next round of state legislative elections in 2019 because “Trump is the gift who just keeps on giving.”

“We keep waiting for him to figure it out and start acting like a traditional political leader, but it now appears he’s incapable of that,” Simon said.
So, with the prospect of Democratic majorities in Richmond, Simon said the biggest challenge will be how to rule effectively. As an example, he said, on issues like whether the minimum wage should be increased to $15 an hour, it will be whether that should be done all at once, or by phases.

He said that he is looking forward to raising his profile among his colleagues there to play a greater leadership role. That is his only ambition for now, he said.

Then, as for 2020, he said he likes the idea of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe throwing his hat in the ring for president. “He’s not a traditional politician, and if you are looking for someone to go toe-to-toe with Trump, he’s your guy.” He said he thinks that former Vice President Biden might not have the energy to run effectively, and he also likes Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

As for Rep. Frank, he says it’s too soon to make any such projections, but as for someone he hopes won’t run, he quipped, “Bernie Sanders.”

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