The Arlingtonians for a Better County organization handed County Board Chairman Mary Margaret Whipple an overwhelming victory last night in a contested bid for its endorsement in the fall board election.

Whipple captured 162 of the 179 votes cast at the ABC convention, easily defeating Tom Hall, a federal employe and former chairman of the ABC, a self-described nonpartisan political organization.

Hall told the nearly 200 people gathered at Washington-Lee High School that he was challenging the popular County Board member because she has chosen to seek a second four-year term as a Democratic nominee.

ABC has a long history of cross-endorsing with county Democrats dozens of County Board candidates who have run as independents. Such moves have allowed the large number of ABC members who are federal employes barred by the Hatch Act from participating in party politics to work in the independent candidates' campaigns.

But in recent years, County Board candidates who are Democrats have increasingly opted to run as their party's nominee, as did three of the four County Board members who form a Democratic majority on the five-member board. They have all won ABC's endorsement.

"I still think there is a place in Arlington for independent candidates who would enable the Hatched people to work in campaigns," Hall said. He said he would not have challenged her if she had run as an independent.

Hall's challenge appeared to be the only obstacle between Whipple, who was nominated by county Democrats last week, and victory on Election Day, Nov. 4. County Republicans have said they do not intend to field a candidate against her.