Arlington County Board Member Barbara Favola earned her promotion Tuesday.
Favola won a hard-fought election battle against Republican Caren Merrick by a healthy margin to represent an area that includes parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties in the state Senate.
Favola received 58 percent of the vote, compared to Merrick’s 42 percent, according to unofficial results.
“We delivered a message that a lot of people embraced,” Favola told an energized crowd at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s victory celebration. “People understood that their rights were on the line.”
Favola’s fight with Merrick came on the heels of a bitter and expensive primary battle that was decided in August. Since then, she and her team knocked on 51,000 doors and made 125,000 phone calls.
About 42 percent of the new 31st Senate District is outside of the often reliably Democratic Arlington County, meaning Favola had to campaign in areas that tend to be home to more Republicans and swing voters.
“The Arlington Story has gone far and wide – and people in the western part of the district have discovered, ‘Yea! We like you a lot!’ ” Favola told more than 250 cheering supporters at in Ballston.
With control of the state Senate on the line, Favola campaigned hard not just against Merrick – but at times against the entire Republican power structure in Richmond. Democrats were worried that poor turnout could hurt their chances, even in Northern Virginia.
But, at least in Favola’s district, some of that worry proved unfounded. Rosslyn Precinct, for instance, saw a 50-percent higher turnout Tuesday than it did four years ago, said Lauren Hall and Steve Baker, the Democratic co-captains of that precinct.
“Rosslyn is notorious for low turnout,” said Baker, citing the large number of college students and transient population in the condominium-dominated area.
“This was important, so people showed up.”
Hall called the Favola team “a machine.”
Local party Chairman Mike Lieberman said Favola’s campaign was “the most impressive field operation I have ever seen in Arlington.” He said it was “amazingly well-run, sophisticated and energetic.”
“This absolutely was a swing race, and one where the Arlington Democrats and Barbara Favola really made a statement,” Lieberman said.
“(Merrick) had help from all of the Republican establishment, and even that help was not able to overcome old-fashioned shoe leather.”
Favola said she expects to serve on the Arlington County Board through December.