This year hardly seems like a good year to be a Republican running a race in heavily Democratic Arlington, but Sept. 4 gives Arlington County Republican Committee Chair Charles Hokanson some hope.
Sept. 4 is the Tuesday just after Labor Day and is a special election day to fill the House of Delegates seat in the 45th District, which includes a portion of Arlington along the Alexandria border. The seat was held by Del. Dave Englin who admitted to an extra-marital affair in April and resigned in June with an effective date at the end of August. Gov. Bob McDonnell set the special election to replace him for Sept. 4.
Republican Tim McGhee is running for the seat against Democrat Rob Krupicka and Libertarian Justin Malkin.
"It's all about getting the vote out on a date when no one's expecting to vote,” Hokanson told the 60 or so members present in the NRECA building conference room.
"We have pulled out victories in special elections in the past,” Hokanson said, referring to Mike Lane who pulled off an upset victory in 1999 over Charles Monroe, winning by just a few hundred votes.
"This would be a huge win to take out a Democrat who has higher aspirations, I believe, than a seat in the house."
However, the speaker of the night Va. Senator Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield County), threw at least a little water on the fire.
"Turn out more votes than you have in the past," Martin said, referring more to the race in November than the special election in September. When Hokanson interrupted with hope for wins, Martin responded, "I'm just not telling you that I'm setting up that expectation” that Arlington would turn red in November.
He said he would be happy to see a Republican win in Arlington in November, but more than that he wanted to see more Republican votes. More votes would help win Virginia’s 13 electoral college votes for presidential candidate Mitt Romney and return candidate George Allen to the U.S. Senate.
He adjured those present to vote for members that shared the conservative Republican values.
In a speech themed on “freedom” Martin spoke not only of the men and women in the military who secure freedom, but of the day-to-day jobs that also secure it, referring to police officers, firefighters and teachers specifically.
It’s the work of our daily lives, “how we live our lives, that determine how our communities are built,” Martin said. "Daily as we go about our lives, we are doing the hard work of freedom."
Martin was credited by the leaders of the night for his work on the new Virginia voter ID law that the federal Department of Justice approved on Monday. The law requires that all voters have an ID, but it allows IDs as diverse as drivers licenses, utility bills and current state college IDs.