The junior member of Arlington’s General Assembly delegation is working to nail down endorsements as he faces an intra-party challenge after just two years in office.
Del. Mark Levine (D-45th) faces a June primary against Alexandria School Board member Karen Graf, who earlier in February announced plans to dislodge Levine in the heavily Democratic district.
“I felt I could not sit on the sidelines and watch strong policies and laws dismantled that have contributed to equitable and quality communities in the Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax districts,” Graf said about her decision to take on Levine, who before winning a seat in the House of Delegates took a run at the 8th Congressional District in a primary won in 2014 by Don Beyer.
Graf has picked up the support of state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th) and a number of Alexandria civic leaders.
As a counterpunch to Graf’s announcement, Levine – an attorney and radio host – rolled out endorsements by a number of Virginia political figures, including Gov. McAuliffe.
“Mark is a passionate and able advocate for the progressive causes we’ve fought for together, and has proven time and time again that he can put aside partisan politics to work with Republicans to get things done,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
In 2015, Levine first won a multi-candidate primary then cruised to a general-election victory to succeed Del. Rob Krupicka, who opted to leave the legislature to spend more time in business.
The 45th District is centered on Alexandria and Fairfax County, but includes a handful of districts in South Arlington. Levine is one of four delegates to represent the county in Richmond.
Among those delegates, he has picked up the endorsements of Dels. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th) and Rip Sullivan (D-48th), but not Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th).
Among other local officials, Levine’s campaign says it has been endorsed by state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st), Arlington County Board members Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey and Arlington School Board member Barbara Kanninen.
The primary will be held June 13, the same day Virginia Democrats and Republicans select their candidates for statewide office.
The winner of the primary is likely to cruise to victory in November: No Republican has announced plans to seek the 45th District seat, and even if contenders do emerge, the district is solidly Democratic.
Equally likely: Whichever Democrat wins will have only limited effectiveness in the House of Delegates, where Republicans hold a nearly 2-to-1 majority.
Graf and her husband, Timothy, have three children and have lived in the Del Ray community for 13 years.