The announced retirement, earlier this year, of veteran 8th District Congressman, Jim Moran, resulted in an open seat for the first time in a quarter-century. The primary election to select a Democratic candidate for Jim’s seat is next Tuesday, June 10. With seven candidates still on the ballot, down from 11 or 12 contenders earlier in the spring, voters have a broad variety of choices.
Perhaps the best known candidate is former Virginia Lieutenant Governor and Ambassador to Switzerland, Don Beyer. Mr. Beyer also is a successful businessman whose family owns several automobile dealerships in the area. His well-funded and thoughtful “Principled Progressive” campaign earned him endorsements from both The Washington Post and the Falls Church News-Press.
Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin calls himself a “proven progressive champion,” and his progressive voting record in the State Senate reflects that approach. Senator Ebbin is well-known in eastern Mason District, since he represented several Mason precincts when he represented the 49th District in the House of Delegates. Senator Ebbin’s endorsements include Local 11 of the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA), and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Local 26.
Longtime Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille has a compelling story of growing up in public housing and attending school in a segregated Alexandria, going away to college, and returning to his native city to become a local and regional leader. Mayor Euille has represented Virginia on the WMATA Board and currently is a vice chairman on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
State Delegate Patrick Hope, a transplanted Texan, is a relative newcomer to elective office, having been re-elected to a third two-year term representing a portion of Arlington in the House of Delegates last fall. A lawyer specializing in medical issues, Hope is a member of the House of Delegates “Progressive Caucus,” and has been endorsed by several other House of Delegates’ members.
The only female candidate in the race is business woman and community organizer Lavern Chatman, former president of the Northern Virginia Urban League. Her campaign made headlines recently when Oprah Winfrey appeared at a local fundraiser for her. Mrs. Chatman says that if a community organizer can be in the White House, a community organizer needs to be in the people’s House!
Two lesser-known candidates round out the field. Derek Hyra, an associate professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech, has focused on affordable housing as a campaign issue. Mark Levine, a local television talk show host, whose campaign slogan is “the aggressive progressive,” is a former staffer for Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts.
With seven candidates on the ballot, turnout will be important to determine a winner in a traditionally low turnout primary. About half of the 8th Congressional District is in Fairfax County, and also includes Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, and the City of Falls Church. Registered voters in the 8th Congressional District may vote at their regular polling place from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10.
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]