By Erich Wagner (Photo/Erich Wagner)
When asked about his odds of victory in a heavily Democratic district against a well-funded opponent, Republican congressional candidate Micah Edmond said you don’t have to look further than this year for precedents.
“Just look at [Eric] Cantor,” he said, referring to the former House majority leader’s primary upset at the hands of little-known professor David Brat.
Edmond spends every Saturday morning canvassing neighborhoods in the 8th Congressional District, talking to residents about the issues important to them. He hopes his visibility — and his track record as a results-oriented moderate — will help him overcome Democrat Don Beyer’s significant fundraising advantage.
According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Beyer has raised nearly $2 million, including donations during primary season, compared with Edmond’s $65,000.
Geoff Skelley, a veteran analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said it would be virtually impossible for Edmond to pull off an upset in such a blue district. He pointed out that President Barack Obama garnered fully two-thirds of the vote in the district in 2012.
“Frankly, it’s very hard to see any Republican being able to win that district,” he said. “It would take some outside forces, some kind of terrible, terrible scandal involving the Democratic nominee or something that makes him totally unpalatable.”
But Edmond, beads of sweat littering his brow in the August heat, is confident in his strategy. Traditionally, he said, candidates target the homes of voters of their own party, which can hurt a moderate candidate.
“Nowadays, campaigns just look to turn out their base,” he said. “Instead, I go out and I try to give literature and talk to everybody. We want everybody to see our message and make up their own minds — Republican or Democrat.”
The feedback to his approach has been overwhelmingly positive, even from the most strident Democrats, Edmond said.
“They might yell at me for a while, but by the end they’re surprised, because I stuck around to listen to them,” Edmond said. “And in politics, that’s where the deal, the compromise, gets done.
“[It’s] all about bipartisan compromise and reminding people that ‘moderate’ is not a bad word.”
Edmond said he also campaigns during rush hour outside of local Metro stations several times a week. It’s important to keep up with the routine not only to make sure he reaches the entire district, but also to show that his interest in residents’ issues is not just for show, he said.
“When they see you at the Metro or out in the neighborhood, they say, ‘He gets it, he understands,’” Edmond said. “We’re slowly starting to change things. People say, ‘Oh, I got your card,’ and they’re happy to see this is not just a gimmick, that we keep doing it.”