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Opinion

Signs of Life In the GOP

By Peter RoffFellow, Institute for Liberty/Former Senior Political Writer, United Press International

Voters opted to end one-party rule in Alexandria, Va., Tuesday when they exchanged an all-Democratic City Council for one that includes two Republican-endorsed independents among its incoming members.

It is always dangerous to cite one election as the beginning of a trend. But, given that recent events have left the national government just one Senate seat shy of being an all-Democratic Party operation, an election outcome like this -- in a bastion of liberalism just across the river from Washington, D.C., -- indicates the dangers of becoming to secure or too smug regarding the demise of your opposition.

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Is this the beginning of a trend? The GOP picks up two seats in Alexandria, Virginia.

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How smug is too smug? Well, just a week out from the election the council voted to increase property taxes in the cityby 5.8 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Not a huge increase, mind you, but one that passed unanimously and was one of several tax hikes the council imposed on city residents over the last two years at a time when the tax base is shrinking for the first time in more than decade.

One can only assume that hubris on the party of the ruling party played a role in the determining the election's outcome. And therein lies the lesson for national Democrats.

One of the new council members, Frank Fannon, is a mortgage banker whose family has been in the home heating oil business for several generations. The second, Alicia Hughes, is an African-American woman who works for the federal government.

Election turnout was light - just about 15 percent of registered voters turned out. But that was enough -- in a race where ten candidates competed "at-large" for six seats on the city's governing body -- for the GOP to take two seats away from the Democrats, who have ruled the city without input from Republicans ever since 2003. Is this the beginning of a trend? It's too soon to tell, but it does show there's some life left in the GOP after all.

Peter Roff is a senior fellow at Frontiers of Freedom, a group promoting consumer choice throughout the marketplace.