It was just a formality – probably like the general election will be – but U.S. Rep. Don Beyer kicked off his bid for re-election during a speech to Arlington Democrats on Jan. 6.
“I’m going to run,” Beyer (D-8th) said to absolutely no one’s surprise, as supporters passed around petitions to help him obtain the requisite number of signatures for ballot access.
Elected to succeed U.S. Rep. Jim Moran in 2014, Beyer sits in one of the most Democratic-leaning congressional districts in the nation, and is unlikely to face any hurdles to a third term. Much of his focus will be on winning a Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Democrats need 24 additional seats to win back the majority they lost in the 2010 elections. Beyer, who is treasurer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said he believes 91 Republican-held seats potentially could be flipped, and “we have good candidates in 88 of those 91.”
In Virginia, Democrats plan to train their fire on U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-10th). She is “the No. 1 target – we’re going to put everyone behind it,” Beyer said of the effort to unseat Comstock, who succeeded U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf the same year Beyer followed Moran into office.
Nearly a dozen Democratic candidates are vying for the chance to take on Comstock; the party will pick its nominee in a June primary. Comstock herself may face an intra-party challenge from conservative Shak Hill, but is likely to face no major hurdle to renomination.
In years in which there have been no competitive races on the ballot in Arlington, the county’s Democrats traditionally have lent a hand to efforts outside the county, and probably will be out in force in the neighboring 10th District. But they also will have to keep their eyes on a key local race, as independent County Board member John Vihstadt is seeking re-election.
Vihstadt is the lone non-Democrat to serve on the County Board since the 1990s; he twice defeated Democrat Alan Howze in 2014, first in a special election called when Chris Zimmerman resigned, then in the subsequent general election.