Tomorrow, June 10, will see the Democratic Primary for Virginia’s eighth Congressional district, to choose the successor to retiring Rep James L. Moran. This district, which snakes through the close-in Washington D.C. suburbs of Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and parts of Fairfax County, is now considered one of the most reliably Democratic districts in the country. The winner of the primary will almost certainly be the next representative, and may hold the seat for many years into the future.
Apathy about this race seems to reign, and turnout will almost certainly be light. However, as a longtime resident of the district, I consider this an important vote. VA-8, as a reliably Democratic district filled with savvy political types, has always struck me as the kind of district that could support a true liberal champion, a Henry Waxman or a Barney Frank. That certainly wasn’t Jim Moran, an amiable but lightweight politico who looks a lot like that classic old-style politico, Tip O’Neill.
The Washington Post today carried a profile of the seven remaining candidates (out of an initial field of 16). All describe themselves as liberal or progressive, and in fact seem to be trying to out-liberal each other, the opposite of what we have grown used to.
More after the fold.
The clear front-runner is Don Beyer, well-known to the public as a Volvo dealer, with plenty of name-recognition from local advertising. Beyer is not a dilettante, though. In fact he has the strongest political resume of any of the candidates. He served two terms as Lt. Governor of Virginia and more recently was the Obama administration's ambassador to Switzerland, giving him some foreign policy smarts that are lacking in the other candidates. The case for Beyer is that his political experience and organization will make him effective from day one. He has most of the high-profile endorsements, including the Washington Post. The case against him, as far as I'm concerned, is that at age 63 I can't help but think he sees the seat as a capstone to a distinguished career rather than a long-term project. I don't know the man, but it's just a feeling I have.
As it happens, Beyer is probably inevitable since any alternative vote will be split between six other candidates, all of them credible contenders. I am leaning toward voting for state delegate Patrick Hope, who seems to me to have the best chance of pulling off an upset (although I don't have any data to support that feeling). Hope is a health-care lobbyist and thus will undoubtedly work hard to support and improve the ACA. He has the endorsement of the Progressive Democrats of America.
Would be interested in comments from eighth district residents. In any case, be sure to vote tomorrow and encourage others to do so. We all need to get in the habit of turning out for every election, and encouraging others. It's our right, it's our duty, and they are all important.