Charlie Hall, a Washington Post reporter and copy editor for 20 years, is running for a county board seat in suburban northern Virginia as a Democrat, and as the Post itself reported Tuesday, he gets really upset when his Democratic opponents suggest he has no Democratic credentials: "The issue infuriates Hall, who said that he has voted Democrat his whole life."
Post reporter Bill Turque chronicled the primary fight for the Providence District of the Fairfax County Board, a long-time Democratic stronghold. Hall's a staunch opponent of new real-estate development in the area. The incumbent fighting for re-election on June 12 is Linda Q. Smyth, who is backed by the chairman of the Fairfax County Board, Gerald Connolly:
The race has been marked by an undercurrent of charge, countercharge and score-settling. Connolly has been outspokenly critical of Hall's lack of involvement in the Democratic Party, even suggesting that he is a closet Republican in cahoots with Connolly's arch political rival, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va). Providence is in Davis's 11th Congressional District.
"Charlie Hall has no known Democratic credentials," said Connolly, who normally extols as a virtue the board's bipartisan consensus on major issues.
Hall said newsroom guidelines at The Post, where he worked as a reporter and part-time copy editor from 1985 to 2005, barred active involvement in partisan causes. He did acknowledge, however, that he and other activists met with Davis for 45 minutes in his congressional office in January to discuss politics in Providence. Hall, who said the meeting was arranged by someone else, said he had been considering running as an independent and wanted to know about the chances that a Republican would join the race, which would make an independent candidacy less attractive. He said Davis described the chances as low.
The issue infuriates Hall, who said that he has voted Democrat his whole life and that Connolly "has spent a hell of a lot more time in Tom Davis' company in the last six months than I have." His campaign produced records showing that Smyth voted in Republican primaries in 1988, 1989 and 1996.
"Meanwhile the other side is questioning my fitness as a Democrat," he said. "It seems like an odd tack to take. Anybody looking at my fundraising would see that if I had a congressman behind me, I'd be in a different boat." Smyth enjoys a commanding edge, $77,856 to Hall's $3,685, according to the latest reports.
Working as a reporter at The Washington Post might bar explicitly partisan activity, but you would think Democrats could count years of service at the Post as a different kind of partisan donation at the office.
Hall's website touts the endorsement of the Democratic bloggers at Raising Kaine, who agree the former Post reporter is the more authentic anti-development liberal.