Our definition of “Northern Virginia” encapsulates an area that includes three congressional districts – the 8th, 10th and 11th. Yet for the first time since its creation in 1952, the 10th Congressional District is no longer part of the area served by the Sun Gazette (because of redistricting, not because our coverage area has shrunk).

So that leaves the 8th and 11th districts to consider.

We hold no delusions. Incumbent Democrats Don Beyer in the 8th and Gerald Connolly in the 11th are going to win re-election handily, no matter where the national political winds blow (while they seem to be shifting back to aiding Republicans, four weeks is a looooong time in politics).

• • •

As had been the case since his first race in 2014, we have supported DON BEYER in the 8th Congressional District despite our disagreements with some of his views. And we do so again. He ably represents his constituents in Congress.

The good news, for Republicans attempting to rebuild their brand across Northern Virginia, is that the party’s nominee in the 8th Congressional District, Karina Lipsman, has done a solid job of getting herself in front of the public and articulating views that differentiate herself from the incumbent. The bad news for those same Republicans is that she’s another in a long line of GOP nominees in the district who seemingly have parachuted in to make the race, and (if past history portends the future) use the campaign to get themselves noticed by the national GOP establishment.

There’s no sin in that tactic, but from an endorsement standpoint, we’d be more likely to give credence to a candidate who has spent some time building civic bona-fides in the district.

(Teddy Fikre is running as an independent in this race. Like Lipsman, he has an interesting life story, and his views on the issues are worth listening to, but Fikre is unlikely to be much more than an asterisk in terms of vote totals.)

• • •

The 11th District is a bit more challenging, as we often find ourselves of two competing minds about the incumbent, Gerald Connolly.

Do Connolly’s views and votes adequately represent the political leanings of the majority of the 11th District? Yes. Is he a smart guy? Yes. Did he percolate up after toiling amid the rigors of local governance? Having started as a district supervisor and then chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, yes.

Yet, not unlike Donald Trump (strange bedfellows!), Rep. Connolly sometimes seems to lack a filter, saying things better left unsaid and on occasion taking an pugnacious stance, veering toward obnoxiousness, when something more conciliatory might better serve his purposes.

(Two years ago, when we declined to endorse either Connolly or his Republican challenger-du-jour, we admitted to “being somewhat charmed by the fact that Connolly seems to not care one whit how he is perceived – there is something refreshingly un-phony about it.”)

Rep. Connolly clearly still has ambition, as was shown when his wasted literally no time this summer stepping over the political corpse of U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (a New York representative who lost a Democratic primary) in trying to ultimately succeed her as chairman – or perhaps in 2023 ranking minority member – of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. It was a clunky start to that particular leadership bid.

Connolly is being challenged in a one-on-one race this fall by Republican James Myles. The incumbent largely has ignored the challenger, which is what incumbents in stronghold districts tend to do.

While more closely aligned philosophically to Myles than to Connolly on the issues, we tend to endorse based largely on how well an incumbent is representing the views of his/her constituents. Connolly wins on that score.

With those conflicting impulses vying against one another, we’ll take the easy way out and stay neutral. Not exactly a profile in courage, we know. But it is what it is.

[https://sungazette.news provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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