Running Down the Clock
With six weeks to go before Election Day, it’s starting to look like Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille will not be debating former Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald — at least not in a debate that doesn’t include all 12 of the City Council candidates.
“I’m not opposed to it,” said Euille, who has already turned down at least one invitation to a one-on-one debate with Macdonald. “But it’s a short window of time, and I’m not sure we can work it out.”
Democrats say the failure to schedule a separate debate for the mayoral candidates is a scheduling problem rather than a strategic one, with the mayor tending to the city’s business at the same time as he’s running for a forth term. Macdonald supporters say the mayor is afraid of a one-on-one debate with Macdonald, and that he’s hoping that an event featuring all 12 council candidates will reduce the time and attention focused on his record.
“I find it difficult to believe that the mayor can’t find an hour or two in his schedule to give the citizens something they truly deserve — the chance to take measure of each of us unfettered by other discourse,” said Macdonald. “I believe Mayor Euille should take a more positive approach to informing the citizens of Alexandria.”
The fate of Virginia’s hotly contested campaign for the U.S. Senate is now in the hands of undecided voters, a group of people who have yet to make up their minds about which candidate they support in the closely watched race.
“What we are seeing is the weakening of party ties and the ascendancy of voting for individuals because we like an individual or his policies,” said George Mason University professor Toni-Michelle Travis. “People stay undecided until some crucial event pushes them one way or another. For some women it’s abortion, and for men it may be views on Afghanistan or foreign policy.”
Poll after poll shows that the race between Allen and Kaine is at a deadlock, even tighter than the presidential contest in Virginia. President Barack Obama has stronger support in Virginia than Kaine, even though both are Democrats on a statewide ballot.
“I’m sure Kaine will get the vast majority of black votes, but maybe if there was a little bit of an undervote or perhaps Kaine might not be getting quite the level of black support that Obama is getting,” said Kyle Kondick, analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “That may be a small factor but potentially an important one.”
Presidential candidates are often judged by whether or not they are able to carry their home state. Statewide candidates are judged by whether or not they can carry their region. At a local level, one crucial factor to watch is whether or not a candidate is able to win his or her home precinct. But what happens when your own civic association won’t invite you to its candidate forum?
“I guess I should be offended,” said Janet Murphy, Independent Green candidate for Congress. “They didn’t invite me.”
For the last two years, Murphy has lived in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington County. But Murphy says nobody has called to invite her to the Oct. 17 Cherrydale Candidates Forum.
“I’ll just come in as the wicked witch,” said Murphy. “I’m assuming they want the more the merrier at these things because it can get dull.”
Murphy is not a first-time candidate, although her campaign against Del. Bob Brink (D-48) was unsuccessful. When she tried to bring a bouquet of flowers to one debate, she said, the gift was rejected.
“They didn’t want to seem like they were taking one side or the other, which I guess I can understand,” said Murphy.