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Favola Accuses Merrick of Running 'Stealth Campaign'

Tuesday night fundraiser draws long list of Democratic elected officials and activists

Democratic state Senate candidate Barbara Favola accused her opponent of running a “stealth campaign” and avoiding questions on tough issues at a fundraiser Tuesday night in the Ashton Heights community.

Favola didn’t mention McLean Republican Caren Merrick by name, but she did criticize mail pieces circulating in the district on Merrick’s behalf for not identifying the candidate as a Republican except in the fine print.

“She is a very conservative Republican. She is not a moderate Republican. She is a Tea Party Republican,” Favola said.

Favola, an Arlington County Board member, accused Merrick of refusing to give a direct answer on raising taxes, either to invest in education or transportation. She also said Merrick would not directly answer questions about issues that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters – except to say that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

“I find it fascinating that this woman who doesn’t think government should have a role in parts of our lives would be right there and put the government right into our faces on personal choices like marriage and other things,” Favola said.

She added: “Her values and her platform and not in step with the 31st District. It’s not the vision we want for Virginia. You and I and many of us see a Virginia that’s more inclusive, that is more socially just, that perhaps is willing to make more investment.”

But the district is admittedly more competitive than it ever has been. Though half in Arlington, about 42 percent of its voters live outside this county. The district includes Great Falls, part of McLean and six precincts in Loudoun County.

Winning will require a “tremendous” amount of effort, said U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. Webb was the guest speaker at the fundraiser.

“If you take these elections for granted, you’re going to wake up very surprised,” Webb said. “The way this particular district has been redrawn should make all of us really determined to get out and push the people who care about the issues we care about to vote.”

The Save the Senate fundraiser drew up to 100 people to the home of Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette and his partner, Bob Rosen. The guests included a long list of Arlington power brokers and elected officials, including retiring state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple, Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur, unopposed Arlington-Falls Church Commonwealth's Attorney candidate Theo Stamos and Del. Bob Brink, D-Arlington.

“It’s one of those moments where we in Arlington have to pull together and make sure that this seat that should be ours, that will be ours, is ours,” Fisette said.

Democrats maintain a tenuous 22-18 hold on the upper chamber. Favola thanked the state Senate for killing multiple “hateful” anti-immigration bills and restoring education funding put forth by the Republican-controlled state House of Delegates.

The 31st District is a must-win for Democrats to maintain control, especially considering the tens of thousands of dollars Senate leadership poured into Favola’s war chest for her recent costly primary.

As of Aug. 31, Merrick had more than $125,000 cash on hand, compared to the less than $15,000 Favola had left.

Organizers declined to estimate how much was raised Tuesday – suggested contributions ranged from $100 to $2,500 – but they did say another Favola fundraiser was planned this week with potential 2013 gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

“Don’t kid yourself,” Favola said. “There are big choices to make in this election, and these choices are worth your inconvenience, they’re worth you devoting some time and energy to turn people out, and they’re worth you doing the right thing.”

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