Focus on District 10 in Virginia House primaries

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When Virginians go to the polls on Tuesday, much of the attention will turn on the 10th Congressional District. Considered one of Virginia’s more competitive races, it features a scientist and two military veterans among those seeking to unseat second-term Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock.

Below is a preview of that race and the other primaries happening in the suburbs of the 1st, 8th and 11th Congressional Districts.


District 10
Comstock’s has come to be seen as a swing district by political experts because it includes suburban parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties that tend to vote Democratic. Comstock has attempted to keep her distance from President Donald Trump, and was one of 20 House Republicans to vote against last year’s bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act (the bill was defeated in the Senate). She has also touted her support for bipartisan issues such as solving the opioid crisis, combatting sexual harassment and securing more jobs for veterans.

Republican Shak Hill, a former Air Force combat pilot, is challenging Comstock, and has criticized her for not supporting President Donald Trump’s agenda.

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The Democratic field includes six candidates who are eager to unseat Comstock. Virginia state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D-District 33) has positioned herself as a moderate who has worked to pass 40 bills in a politically divided legislature during the last four years on issues such as the opioid crisis and prosecuting online child predators.

Wexton has been endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and other state and local politicians. She is also the only Virginia House candidate to be endorsed by The Washington Post.


Other Democratic candidates in the race have positioned themselves as liberal insurgents, including former prosecutor Paul Pelletier and Dan Helmer, an Army veteran. Pelletier has touted his experience of successfully prosecuting lobbyists such as Jack Abramoff, and has vowed to similarly call for an investigation of the National Rifle Association, even posting a letter on his website asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to do so.

Helmer has said if elected he would impeach Trump, whom he has compared to Osama bin Laden. Helmer also said he would support legislation that prohibits political fundraising by members of Congress if a budget is not passed by the Oct. 1 deadline.

Also running in the 10th District are Democrats Alison Friedman and Lindsey Davis Stover, both of whom served in the Obama administration. Friedman has cited her experience in the State Department fighting human trafficking as a factor that led her to run for office. She has raised the most money of all the Democratic candidates in the race — $2.4 million, according to The Washington Post. Stover, who worked in the Department of Veterans Affairs, has pledged to oppose a number of Trump’s policies, including his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Stover has said she will support legislation protecting undocumented immigrants.

The sixth Democratic candidate, Julia Biggins, is a microbiologist, who has accused Trump of ignoring science, such as his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

District 1
Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Wittman is running for his seventh term in a large district that includes part of Manassas. The district is seen mainly as a longshot for Democrats, but some pollsters have given Democrats a chance to take back the seat in November due to the fact that Northam won parts of the district in last year’s gubernatorial race.

Three Democrats are vying to unseat Wittman, who faces no primary opposition. They are Edwin Santana, a former Marine; John Suddarth, an Army veteran and businessman; and Vangie Williams, a government contractor.

District 8
Democrat incumbent Rep. Don Beyer is in his second term representing District 8, which includes the dense suburbs of Arlington and Alexandria. Beyer faces no opposition in the primary. Republican Thomas Oh, an Army veteran and federal contractor, is unopposed in his primary as well. The two will face off in the November general election.

District 11
Democratic incumbent Rep. Gerry Connolly is running for a sixth term representing District 11, which includes Reston, Fairfax and southern Prince William County. Connolly faces no opposition in the primary. Republican Jeff Dove, an Army veteran, is running unopposed in his primary and will face Connolly in November.

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