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Let’s not waste time deceiving ourselves: The Democratic incumbents in inner Northern Virginia’s three congressional districts (the 8th, 10th and 11th) are going to win re-election bids without breaking a sweat.
But that doesn’t mean voters need to necessarily be enamored with the personalities and enchanted with the performance of their elected House members over the past two years, as it’s been a decidedly mixed bag:
• In the 10th District, and as we predicted two years ago when Democrat Jennifer Wexton bumped off incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock, Wexton has proved a Democratic party-liner, reliably voting as she was directed, offering few if any fresh ideas of her own and seldom being much of a visible presence in her district.
The only open question as Wexton’s first term evolved was whether she’d gravitate toward the Nancy Pelosi wing of the party or the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wing. But now that those once-polar-opposite positions have merged into a muddled jumble, it has become a moot point.
On the plus side, in a way, Wexton has delivered on expectations she raised when running in 2018 – a reflexive, reliable Democratic vote on every issue. If you like that, she’s your type of elected leader.
Republican challenger Aliscia Andrews is impressive, but in a presidential-election year, the 10th is going to stick with the Democrat.
• In the 11th District, the Democratic incumbent, Gerry Connolly, is hardly even campaigning against Republican Manga Anantatmula – but then, what would a campaign in the 11th be without a touch of Connolly arrogance? (We, who have known him since the days he was a lowly Fairfax district supervisor, admit to being somewhat charmed by the fact that Connolly seems to not care one whit how he is perceived by his constituents. There is something refreshingly un-phony about it.)
Barring a major rejiggering of the district’s boundaries sometime in the future, Connolly will continue to age in place, occupying this seat as long as he wants.
• Circling back to the 8th District, incumbent Democrat Don Beyer has been interacting with his Republican opponent, Jeff Jordan, and the distinctions are striking. Jordan tacks far right, having won the GOP nomination after knocking off a more centrist, but equally unelectable, candidate. His positions certainly are out of touch with the majority in the 8th District (the most liberal among the three districts in the region), but it has been good to hear a candidate who offers a clear ideological distinction from his opponent, rather than running as a Democrat-lite like too many apostate Republicans these days.
That said, Beyer merits the easy re-election he will receive. That’s good news for constituents; while we don’t always agree with his politics, we do think Beyer represents a seasoned, sincere, serious-minded civic leader in a fractured political environment that needs more of them.