By John Celock
Seventeen years after his defeat for the Virginia governorship, former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer has jump started his career in elective politics, winning the Democratic nomination for Congress in a safe Democratic seat.
Beyer, who owns an eponymous chain of primarily Volvo and Subaru dealerships in Northern Virginia easily defeated six opponents to win the Democratic nomination in the Eighth District to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Moran (D). Given the heavy Democratic tilt of the district, Beyer is considered the favorite to defeat Republican Micah Edmond in November.
Beyer captured 45.8 percent of the vote in the race, easily besting state Del. Patrick Hope who captured 18.3 percent. State Sen. Adam Ebbin pulled in 13.6 percent, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille 8.4 percent, radio show host Mark Levine 6.7 percent, former Urban League chapter president Lavern Chatman 5.4 percent and Virginia Tech sociology professor Derek Hyra 1.2 percent. Three candidates who pulled out of the race but remained on the ballot trailed Hyra.
The race was marked by most of the candidates trying to stack out the position as the most progressive candidate in the field. Beyer, long considered the frontrunner, found himself under attack for moderate positions he took on welfare reform while serving as lieutenant governor in the 1990s. He defended his view, noting he was working with then Gov. George Allen (R) and other Republicans in Richmond at the time.
Beyer centered much of his campaign on promising to address climate change while in Congress and noting his experience as both lieutenant governor and as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein under President Barack Obama.
Hope had tried to use his long standing work on health issues to his advantage, noting that he would push for expanding Obamacare if elected. Ebbin, Virginia’s first openly gay state senator, noted his ability to work as a progressive in a Republican-controlled legislative body. Chatman inserted a celebrity factor into the race with his endorsement by Oprah Winfrey. Euille focused on his record in City Hall while Levine touted his work for former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and dubbed himself the “aggressive progressive.” Hyra focused on his research into urban development and touted a need for “partnership politics” to bridge party lines, along with promoting “strong communities” and addressing the housing market.
ArlNow.com reported that Beyer was joined at his victory party in Old Town Alexandria by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Moran.
Beyer will be one of at least three new members of Congress in the Virginia delegation. He will be joined by the winner of the race between Del. Barbara Comstock (R) and Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (D) in a neighboring Northern Virginia district and the winner of the race between Republican Dave Brat and Democrat Jack Trammil for the Richmond based seat of outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R).