On January 15, when Jim Moran announced his retirement after serving 12 terms as the congressman from Virginia's 8th congressional district (Arlington and Fairfax counties, Falls Church and Alexandria), he was giving up a solidly blue seat. The PVI is D+16 and Obama took the district with 68% both in 2008 and 2012. Moran himself was reelected in 2012 with 65%. In other words, whoever wins the Democratic primary on June 10, will be the next congressmember from Virginia. There are 11 candidates and many of them are very good, particularly state Senator Adam Ebbin, talk show host Mark Levine and state Delegate Patrick Hope. There are a couple of shady characters running, particularly Nancy Najarian and Lavern Chatman and some corporate Dems (Charniele Herring and William Euille), but, for the most part, it's a pretty decent crop of Democrats… with one especially glaring exception: multimillionaire former conservative Lt Governor, Don Beyer, favorite of the corrupt Establishment and relatively acceptable to mainstream Republicans to boot, who appreciate his efforts to slash the state's social safety net for its poorest residents.
With the wealth of decent progressives running in the primary, our instinct at Blue America is to keep out of it entirely. The problem with that strategy, though, is that it looks entirely plausible that the progressives will divide the vote up among themselves and that Beyer will wind up winning, the worst possible outcome. It looks like if someone breaks 20% in this crowded field, he or she could walk away with the nomination. If that someone is the foreign car dealer with all the car ads-- Beyer-- an opportunity to strengthen and enhance a viable progressive vision in Congress is tragically missed.
The best of the progressives-- and the one with the best chance of stopping Beyer-- is Delegate Patrick Hope, the only candidate from North Arlington, which represents over 28% of the projected Democratic primary vote. Keep in mind that Beyer's turf, Alexandria (22% of the projected Democratic primary vote), is the home turf to 8 of the 11 Democrats in the race, including the mayor, a state senator, and another Delegate… aside from Beyer. This won't be Hope's first tough primary. He first won his seat in 2009 after a grueling 5-way primary. And Hope isn't reluctant to stand up against the Establishment on behalf of progressive values and his constituents. He took on newly elected Governor Terry McAuliffe when McAuliffe joined a pack of right-wing governors clamoring for offshore drilling and he also stood up to McAuliffe when he tried appointing a man who opposes marriage equality for LGBT Virginians as Democratic Party chair (see video above).
So far every single straw poll has either had Hope as number 1-- as he was Wednesday night at the Young Democrats straw poll hosted by Dennis Kucinich-- or as the strongest progressive against Beyer. The founder and co-chair of Virginia’s Progressive Caucus, Patrick has led the fight on issues that are important to Blue America-- not just the social issues that pretty much all Democrats are embracing, but on the economic issues that see conservative Dems selling out on frequently. Patrick:
I'm running for Congress because we need more progressives in Congress who are unafraid to stand up to the right wing influences-- even when they are within our own party. When I was elected to the state legislature I found out there was not a progressive caucus of members that existed; so I founded it and we have won some major issues despite facing a 2-1 Republican led House. I've led the fight in Virginia to expand Medicaid and I will work in Congress to expand and improve the health care law we passed in 2014. I support comprehensive immigration reform… with no more delays. We can make progress in Washington-- but only if we elect real progressives to Democratic seats like this one."