By no means is Virginia’s eighth congressional district easy territory for Republicans.
The retiring incumbent, Democrat Jim Moran, represented the district for twelve terms, and the last time one of his Republican opponents cracked 40 percent was 1992.
Moran survived one scandal and controversy after another, with few problems at the ballot box. In 2004, after he made comments suggesting that the Iraq War was driven primarily by support from Jews, Moran had a Democratic-primary opponent, Alexandria attorney Andrew M. Rosenberg, who campaigned heavily on Moran’s history of controversial comments. Rosenberg won 41 percent, Moran 59 percent. The congressman went on to win 59 percent in the general election as well.
The district includes two of the Northern Virginia communities most dominated by Democrats, Arlington and Alexandria. By any standard, these are wealthy communities, as Arlington had the highest median family income in America in 2012, according to the Census Bureau, and has ranked among the nation’s highest year in and year out. Alexandria’s median household income also ranks among the nation’s highest, cracking the top 25 most years. The district is home to tens of thousands of federal workers and includes the Pentagon, as well as the headquarters buildings of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In the last round of redistricting, the eighth district lost some of the suburbs west of D.C., including Reston, and extended further south, down to Woodbridge. The impact was negligible: In 2008, President Obama took 68.5 percent of the vote; in 2012, Obama took 67.8 percent.
Local Republicans are cheered by the possibility of a top-tier candidate, Micah Edmond. Currently an assistant vice president at the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group representing aircraft manufacturers and suppliers, Edmond brings a sterling biography for a first-time candidate: the son of a single mom, a Marine Corps officer with eight years of active-duty service, a former national-security adviser to Representatives Mike Turner of Ohio and Joe Wilson of South Carolina, an analyst on the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission, the holder of an M.B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
“I filed today to run for Congress because our country is facing a budget crisis that is undermining our national security, our economic security, and our ability to invest in the future,” Edmond said in an e-mailed statement to NRO. “I am a fiscal conservative that believes we need a balanced solution that keeps us from continuing to spend money we don’t have. The current fiscal path is not only unsustainable and dangerous, it doesn’t address the uncertainty and anxiety that people live with every day.”
As a Republican candidate in a heavily Democratic district, Edmond is quick to emphasize his interest in working across party lines: “I am a former U.S. Marine officer with a reputation for making hard choices and solving problems. In Congress, I will work with anyone — Republican or Democrat — who is willing to face up to tough problems and identify real solutions. I am committed to making my top priority a bipartisan effort to work across the political aisle to solve our current fiscal crisis.”
“Micah is a great potential candidate, with a strong background and knowledge of the defense industry, which is a key employer in the district,” says Mike Ginsberg, GOP chairman for the district. “As a young person, he’s also proof that younger voters have not migrated en masse to the Democrats.”
Democrats will have no shortage of candidates with experience in local office and long-dormant ambitions:
- Alexandria mayor Bill Euille, who has served in the mayoralty since 2003. (Moran was mayor of Alexandria before running for Congress.)
- State senator Adam P. Ebbin, who has represented Alexandria in the state senate for two years and served in the state house of delegates for another eight. The region’s other state senator, Democrat Richard Saslaw, is not seen as a likely congressional candidate, as he is 73 years old and is currently leader of the Democrats in the state senate.
- State delegate Patrick Hope of Arlington, who won a five-way primary in 2009 and ran unopposed in 2011. He is co-chairman of the Virginia Progressive Caucus.
- State delegate Rob Krupicka, whose official bio states that he has “played an active role in shaping the progressive Alexandria that we know today.” He served on the Alexandria city council from 2003 to 2012 and on the state board of education from 2009 to 2012.
- State delegate Mark Keam, who represents a district that overlaps a bit with the northwestern corner of Moran’s congressional district. His home of Vienna is just outside Moran’s district; that wouldn’t preclude him from running but could present a complication.
- Arlington Board of Supervisors chairman Jay Fisette, who has been in office since January 1998 and has served as chairman of that board three times.
- Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member Jeff C. McKay, who has served on that board since 2007, and who is also a reserve deputy sheriff for Fairfax County.
“If you look at the names the Democrats are bandying about, they are all hard-left, down-the-line Democrats who will probably spend their nominating process trying to out-lefty each other,” Ginsberg says. “Each Democrat will be out there trying to show that they are the best choice to protect the president’s one accomplishment — Obamacare — just as that accomplishment is causing middle-class families huge heartache as the waves of cancellation notices go out. Good luck with that.”
Another Virginia Republican source sees Moran’s unexpected departure as a gift — even if the odds are against a GOP takeover in the eighth district — because of the money, resources, and energy that Democrats will spend fighting each other in the months before the June 10 primary.
“This pulls a huge amount of Democrats’ money out of Virginia’s tenth district,” he says, referring to the open-seat race in the adjacent district, where 17-term Republican incumbent Frank Wolf is retiring. “It drives up the cost of airtime for running television ads. Makes the Wolf seat a likely hold.”
– Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.