Beyer wins Democratic primary for Congress

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Beyer wins Democratic primary for Congress
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By Erich Wagner (Photo/Erich Wagner)

Former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer easily won the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District on Tuesday night, securing more than 45 percent of the vote.

Turnout was relatively low, with only around 39,000 ballots cast, according to an unofficial tally by the Virginia Board of Elections. Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope finished second in the crowded field of suitors trying to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D) with 18 percent while state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-45) came in third with 13.6 percent.

Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille finished fourth among voters, securing 8 percent of the vote; radio pundit Mark Levine took 6.7 percent and former Northern Virginia Urban League President Lavern Chatman won 5 percent. Derek Hyra came in last with 1 percent of the ballots.

Beyer won convincingly in all four jurisdictions — only Patrick Hope came close and only in Arlington County — and candidates began calling the former lieutenant governor to concede around 8 p.m. Beyer enjoyed a significant fundraising advantage, raising more than $1 million over the course of the campaign — more than double the total of any other candidate.

“We’re very pleased by tonight’s results,” Beyer said. “It all came together just the way I had hoped.”

Moran congratulated Beyer and said he would make a great congressman, touting his strength on both foreign and domestic issues.

“He distinguished himself with a deep knowledge of foreign policy, a steadfast commitment to addressing global climate change, support for common sense gun laws, and consistently strong progressive values,” Moran said in a statement.

In Euille’s concession speech, he said that he and Beyer are fast friends and he was certain the Democratic nominee would represent Northern Virginia well.

“We didn’t plan this, but we actually showed up at the Durant Recreation Center to vote at the same time this morning,” Euille said. “[Reporters] interviewed both of us, and we each complimented each other.

“He said, ‘I’ve always voted for him. I’ve voted for him for mayor and for council, but today I’m voting for someone else.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ve always voted for Don. I’ve voted for him for lieutenant governor, I’ve voted for him for governor. But today I’m voting for someone else.’”

Many voters like Rebecca Munroe cited Beyer’s stances on issues like climate change and gun control as key to his securing their votes.

“Initially I supported Bruce Shuttleworth, but when he dropped out I transitioned to Don Beyer,” Munroe said. “I was impressed by his stance on gun control, and his association with Abby Spangler’s organization [Protest Easy Guns]. That, and he has the money and the ability to beat a Republican in the general election.”

Many voters reported having difficulty deciding between the candidates. Michelle Kinsey Brunz said she examined each hopeful’s stance on abortion rights — showing off a “#prochoice” tattoo on her forearm as she spoke — and was pleased by just about everyone.

“I was actually sad [Delegate] Charniele Herring dropped out, but the whole bunch were really good,” she said. “A bunch of them seemed very genuine on the issue.”

Others said they simply felt it was important to vote given how narrowly divided the state is politically. Tim Shaheen cited the political firestorm surrounding the sudden resignation of state Sen. Phillip Puckett (D-38) as a factor that motivated him to go to the polls.

“I thought all the candidates were pretty solid,” he said. “I just felt it was important to take a position, especially with that [expletive] who just resigned. It reminds you that we live in a very divided state.”

Beyer will face Republican Micah Edmond, who was chosen by convention, in the general election in November. Beyer said that despite the district’s Democratic-leaning demographics, he will not rest on his laurels.

“I hope to bring the party together over the next couple of days, and then I want to make sure no one takes November for granted,” he said. “I want to take a strong campaign into the general election, talking about the same things like climate change, common sense gun laws and where our new jobs are going to come from.”

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