Well, the electoral table is set for local elections. The Republican hegemony in Manassas is at an end. The filing deadline for the November Council election was today at 5:00 and nobody else has filed to run. So, we've Mr. Aveni & Mrs. Bass for the Republicans and Mr.Elston and Mrs. Richie-Folks for the Democrats. Peeps, for the first time since the Democrats found the nerve to meet in the city, Manassas will have a Democrat in elected office.
Not that anyone asked, but here's what I think: First of all, I find it distressing that nobody anywhere is talking about this. It's a huge change to have an actual elected Democrat in office. Certainly my friends on the right have been convinced for years that there are already 2 or 3 Democrats on the Council but we at least have the imprimatur (R) of the Republican party (They insist it stands for RINO but whatever). No, these will be actual Democrats with an actual (D) after their name. When the paper comes to interview them (when and if that ever happens again) they'll actually have that (D). Clearly the Democrats in town feel as though the GOP aren't providing the leadership to get it done.
Is that the end of the world? No and, furthermore, it was entirely predictable. Manassas has been carried by the Democrats for the past 5? statewide and Federal elections? Face it, the demographics of Manassas have changed radically. Our new residents of whatever origin were not going to remain uninvolved forever. The local GOP, mirroring the state and national party have done little to engage the new demographic or get them involved in the leadership process. Unfortunately, neither have the Democrats. I've said elsewhere before and still believe the City will struggle to thrive with 1/3 of our residents marginalized. It isn't sufficient to say "well unless they get involved it's their problem". It's a leadership challenge with serious consequences. The outcome of this race could depend on how effective the parties are at penetrating that demographic.
Indeed, it's possible that 2 Democrats could be elected to office this time around! However, before my friends on the left drop the disco ball and start twirling to "Celebration" by Kool & the gang, they need to remember that this is still going to be a fight. it is easy to overstate the results of the last couple of elections. In the Presidential elections, the Democrats had gobs of paid and volunteer staff working the streets. The first time Obama ran, his campaign office was right across the street from my office. The parking lot had mostly out of state plates on the cars but it was ultimately successful. Twice. However, the Republicans had a mixed bag of candidates. Remember, this was the age when the GOP saw Sarah Palin as a serious candidate in their fevered little brains. On the statewide elections it wasn't a huge shock that The Cooch didn't carry the City. It was close but no cigar – Manassas has always been a center-right town. That's changed somewhat as more social conservatives now call Manassas home but the majority are still closer to the middle on both sides. Indeed, for the last several cycles the GOP office in the area has been out to the west of town. I don't know but it's interesting to me that the Democrats might consider Manassas as part of their base in a get out the vote effort….and the Republicans don't….
Anyway, good luck to everyone. Certainly having Federal and state candidates involved in the mix will change things for all that are running but I continue to believe that in a local election you can win with a little bit of money and a lot of hard work. It really is the last bastion of any real sort of Democracy anywhere.