A lesser-known fact about Falls Church’s U.S. congressman, Donald S. Beyer Jr., is his national role in this critical midterm election year as the financial director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Beyer, who represents the 8th District of Virginia that includes the City of Falls Church, is spending a considerable amount of time criss-crossing the nation to meet with and evaluate the potentials of Democratic congressional candidates in a year when the chances of Democrats reclaiming the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and possibly also the U.S. Senate, are running high.
Beyer’s predecessor in Congress, former U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, brought this aspect of Beyer’s service to light in a Falls Church event Sunday, where a high level of enthusiasm by a large turnout in a private home matched the rousing enthusiasm that Democrats generated in nearby larger county-wide events in Fairfax’s Tysons Corner and Arlington’s Ballston districts in the last two weeks.
On the Republican side, the news has centered on the GOP’s endangered congressman Barbara Comstock’s strong expression of support this week for President Trump’s decision to ditch the Iran Nuclear accord — in sharp contrast to Beyer and his Virginia Democratic colleagues Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Rep. Gerry Connolly — and the GOP’s 11th District committee’s formal opposition to the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia, a highly contentious issue being fought out now in Richmond.
(On the Medicaid expansion issue, a wide representation of often-pro Republican Chambers of Commerce have weighed in this week, including the powerful Northern Virginia Chamber, supporting the expansion, which would extend Medicaid coverage to 400,000 Virginians not now covered).
Comstock, representing the 10th District to the west, is the most-targeted congressman in Virginia for defeat by the Democrats along with at least one other district, currently held by Rep. David Brat in central Virginia’s 7th District. Despite her ringing endorsement of Trump’s action this week, Comstock was excluded from a long list of congressmen who were quoted in support of the president’s decision in an official White House press release yesterday.
Comstock’s district is a gerrymandered long and narrow district running from small portions of McLean bordering right at the Falls Church City limits westward deep into Loudoun County. Despite recent GOP-controlled gerrymandering, however, the demographics of the district have lost their deep red, pro-GOP luster in the days since retired U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf had a lock on it (way back in the day, until 1991, the 10th district and Wolf, covered the City of Falls Church), though a tenacious Comstock has been able to hold onto it through some stiff challenges in recent years. Her party dodged a bullet this Tuesday when Don Blankenship, an openly race-baiting, xenophobic candidate promising to “out-Trump Trump” in West Virginia was soundly defeated, even as levels of Democratic turnouts in primaries in four states overwhelmed those for Republicans.
For Comstock, this year could be different for her, as six energetic potential Democratic challengers are currently vying for their party’s nomination, to be determined in a primary next month. So far, the edge there is going to State Sen. Jennifer Wexton of Loudoun, who was endorsed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam last month.
Beyer, who’s currently touting the best-selling book by Harvard professor Steven Pinker, “Enlightenment Now, The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress” (called “my new favorite book of all time” by Bill Gates), called Trump “America’s first anti-Enlightenment president” at the Falls Church event Sunday, adding, “One anti-Enlightenment president will not overcome 250 years of democratic progress.”
He cited three areas that are cause for optimism despite the Trump presidency (he said he found comedian Michelle Wolf’s controversial roast of Trump at the White House Correspondents Dinner recently “the funniest 20 minutes ever”). He pointed to 1. the explosion of civic activism that continues to build, 2. the muscular role of the press’ “speaking truth to power,” naming the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Falls Church News-Press, and 3. the Democratic election wins all across the U.S. in the last year.
Based on his pivotal role with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Beyer said that across the U.S., there are 108 “good” Democratic candidates now running aggressively for seats that the GOP currently holds, and that more Republicans have announced their retirement from Congress this year than in any year since 1930.
He stressed the importance of the Democrats “needing a good candidate” for the 2020 presidential race. In all the Democrats’ bids to “flip” districts, the races will be close, he cautioned.
Beyer, the Falls Church native son who was once president of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce as a local businessman before being elected Virginia’s lieutenant governor in 1989, and Sen. Tim Kaine are slated to be guest speakers at the annual Falls Church Democratic Committee potluck at the Falls Church Community Center on June 10.