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Voters in Arlington and McLean will be heading to the polls next month in a special election to replace longtime Delegate Bob Brink, and the parties will be working overtime this weekend to name candidates.
Last week, Brink announced he is stepping down from his position in the House of Delegates to become deputy commissioner for aging services. That opens a seat that Brink has been in since he was first elected in 1997.
Elections officials say it would be difficult to image a more challenging scenario for a campaign. Both parties have until Monday afternoon to declare their candidates. As a result, Democrats have organized a last-minute caucus this weekend — in July, on a holiday weekend no less.
"Shoot, there is a tropical storm out there that I don't think is supposed to hit us, but the way my luck has gone," says Kip Malinosky, Arlington Democratic chairman.
He says Democrats will be considering six candidates: former president of Legal Services of Northern Virginia Rip Sullivan, former prosecutor David Boling, Arlington Democratic party communications director Paul Holland, Yorktown Civic Association president Andrew Schneider, Young Democrats of America President Atima Omara-Alwala, and Arlington attorney Yasmine Taeb.
Republican chairman Matt Wavro says the GOP does not yet have any candidates.
"It's not necessarily a long shot because voters are looking for someone who can best represent the district in Richmond," Wavro says.
Back in 2009, when Alexandria Delegate Brian Moran resigned his seat in the General Assembly, both parties conducted a similarly rushed primary. The Republican in that race came so close to winning that a recount was conducted. Arlington Registrar Linda Lindberg says turnout in the August special election could be around 10 percent — if it's a competitive race.
"If it ends up that there's only one candidate on the ballot, then it's going to be a next-to-nothing turnout," she says.
The District gave Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe 65 percent of the vote in 2013 and Democratic President Barack Obama took 62 percent of the vote in 2012. That means that the winner of Sunday's caucus will likely be the next Delegate to represent Arlington and McLean.
The deadline for Republicans and Democrats to announce their candidates is Friday afternoon. The special election is set for Aug. 19.