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Perriello, McAuliffe energize Arlington Democrats

Party hopes to re-paint Virginia blue in 2011 and beyond.

Thank you for all your hard work. Now, get ready to work hard.

That was the message at the this weekend.

More than 300 activists, party leaders and elected officials gathered at the for the traditional showcase of the year’s accomplishments and a pep rally for the months ahead.

“Already this evening, I’ve been handed business cards from people saying, ‘Please let me know where I can help outside of Arlington. Where can I help downstate to make sure we elect more Democrats?’ ” state party Chairman Brian Moran told the crowd in his opening remarks.

The party is banking on that level of activism heading into a delayed primary season and a general election that local committee Chairman Mike Lieberman expects to have the lowest voter turnout of the four-year election cycle.

The outcome of state redistricting arguably makes it easier for Republicans to hold on to the Virginia House of Delegates, and Democrats hope to retain – possibly build – their slim margin in the state Senate.

Moran played up the local education system, low crime rate and environmental awareness to illustrate what he said was the importance of once again painting Virginia solid blue.

“The beauty of Arlington is that it serves as a wonderful example of what a community looks like when you put Democratic principles in action – when you devote resources that create opportunities for everyone,” he said.

Lieberman acknowledged that activists are tired – tired of licking envelopes, making phone calls and knocking on doors – but said the party couldn’t afford to sit out this year’s contests and wait until 2012, a presidential election year.

He pleaded for financial support and continued volunteerism.

And he talked about the importance of public education, health care for everyone and the reputation of Arlington as a “sanctuary community,” and said, “These aren’t just Democratic values, they’re human values. And they’re family values.”

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello and ex-Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe – – were the keynote speakers.

Perriello was given a rockstar’s welcome. He received healthy applause for his votes supporting the federal stimulus program, health care reform and cap-and-trade legislation. On most fronts, he said the legislation didn’t go far enough.

“Taking a good idea and cutting it in half doesn’t make it a better idea,” he said.

Perriello talked about his 2010 defeat good naturedly, telling the audience that was no reason to retreat.

“There are worse things than losing,” he said. “Not standing up for your values is one of those things. The only thing more frustrating than losing is having never made your argument in the first place.”

McAuliffe received a somewhat lukewarm welcome but he kept the crowd laughing by highlighting what he considered Republican failures and left them energized. Both men received standing ovations.

In an interview, McAuliffe called Arlington “probably the most friendly county in Virginia” to Democrats.

“Not even a close call,” he said.

The local party also honored outgoing state Sens. Mary Margaret Whipple and Patsy Ticer, who are retiring.

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