Democrats have opted for a state-run primary to winnow the crowded field hoping to challenge Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, R-10th District, next year.
The 10th Congressional District Democratic Committee voted unanimously Nov. 18 to hold an open primary ahead of what is broadly expected to be one of the most competitive races in the country in the 2018 midterms.
With nine Democrats vying for the party’s nomination, reports surfaced earlier this fall that the group was mulling more insular nominating contests, like a “firehouse” primary or a party convention. But many of the candidates pushed back on that notion, with former Obama administration staffer Lindsey Davis Stover even launching a petition urging the committee to pick the June primary.
“I am thrilled with the committee’s decision to hold a state-run primary and want to thank all of the activists from across the district who have stepped up time after time advocating for a fair and open process for choosing the Democratic nominee,” Stover wrote in a statement. “Hundreds of voters have stood up for the right to vote and participate in the process, and to them I say: Your voices were heard today.”
State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, D-33rd District and the lone Democratic elected official in the race, also put out a statement supporting the committee’s decision. Other candidates--like Navy veteran Dave Hanson, Army veteran Dan Helmer, former federal prosecutor Paul Pelletier and school founder Deep Sran--also released statements and posted messages on social media praising the vote for a primary.
Scientist Julia Biggins, anti-human trafficking advocate Alison Friedman and Navy veteran Julien Modica round out the field. Educator Kimberly Adams briefly mounted a bid as well, but dropped out of the running.
Comstock is facing competition for the nomination from Shak Hill, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in the 2014 race for U.S. Senate.
Democrats have long viewed Comstock’s district as a prime target for a pick-up, as it covers much of the increasingly blue-tinged Virginia suburbs — it includes all of Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties, along with parts of Prince William and Fairfax.
The results of the Nov. 7 elections have particularly emboldened Democrats targeting Comstock’s seat, as Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam managed to get 56 percent of the vote in the district to Republican Ed Gillespie’s 43 percent.
Yet Comstock has often out-performed other Republicans at the top of the ticket. In 2016 she bested President Donald Trump’s performance in the district by about 10 points.