The Washington Post

Campaign donations signal close race in Arlington County Board special election

The two main candidates running for Arlington County Board raised almost equal amounts of money in the first quarter of the year, an indication of how tight the special election race has become just a week before voters go to the polls.

Democrat Alan Howze raised $84,984, and John Vihstadt, a Republican running as an independent, raised $84,154 in the period between Jan. 1 and March 31, according to results tabulated by the Virginia Public Access Project.

Howze, who won the Democratic nomination after holding off two other challengers in early February, has spent $103,846 of the $109,106 he’s raised since entering the race in late 2013. He has the backing of establishment Democrats, both in endorsements and donations, and in predominantly Democratic Arlington, he is considered the favorite.

Howze said his campaign has raised over $81,000 from 481 donors, and promised via e-mail to “continue to reach out to voters across Arlington to remind them of the Democratic values and community priorities at stake in this election.”

Vihstadt, who has campaigned on his opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar and his skepticism over other county capital spending, has spent $75,121, leaving him with a larger, $20,379 war chest in the campaign’s last week. He has the endorsements of the Arlington Republicans, the local Green party and several elected Democrats. While he and his family contributed about $7,000 to his campaign, he also pointed out that he’s received donations from “every corner of the county and neighborhoods in between.”

“What better evidence is there that so many voters across the political spectrum and regardless of party are yearning for a fresh voice and positive change on a County Board that too often seems more like an echo chamber than a deliberative body?” he said in an e-mailed statement.

Neither of the other two candidates, Stephen Holbrook nor Janet Murphy, reported any donations or spending.

The candidates have been appearing at a series of neighborhood forums and doing door-to-door campaigning throughout the late winter. The last one is set for Thursday night, 7 to 9 p.m. at 909 S. Dinwiddie Street, on Columbia Pike. The election is April 8.

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.



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