On Tuesday, voters will pick candidates from the most crowded field of primary contenders in the history of Virginia’s 10thCongressional District and Republicans will select their challenger for U.S. Senator Tim Kaine.
In the wake of the 2016 election of President Donald J. Trump—and the controversies, scandal and investigations that have embroiled the White House and Congress since—Democrats have surged to run for office, including at one time as many as 11 candidates for the seat. As voters head into the polls, six Democrats are still competing.
Of those Democrats, only one has held elected office before: State Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-33). Wexton, who has garnered endorsements from a host of national, state and local Democrats, will compete with infectious disease scientist Julia Biggins, former Obama administration official and nonprofit executive Alison Friedman, Army veteran and consultant Dan Helmer, attorney and former federal prosecutor Paul Pelletier, and small business owner and former Obama administration official Lindsey Davis Stover to run against incumbent. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10)—assuming she withstands her own primary challenge on Tuesday from Shak Hill.
While Wexton is the clear Democratic establishment favorite, Helmer has spent the most time in the national spotlight, attracting national media attention for his TV spots, including on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for an ad in which he sings a rendition of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”—as “You’ve Lost That Centrist Feelin’”—to a stand-in for Comstock. More recently, he sparred with hosts on the conservative talk show Fox & Friends.
Meanwhile, according to Federal Elections Commission records, Friedman has handily outraised all other candidates in the race. By far the largest single donor to the Friedman campaign is Alison Friedman herself, having given the campaign $1,043,100. But even subtracting that money, Friedman has outraised her nearest competitor, Wexton, by almost $300,000.
Democrats have targeted Comstock as a vulnerable seat in the House of Representatives.
Two years ago, LuAnn Bennett became the first 10th District Democrat to win in Loudoun since 1978, but only by 150 votes.
Although she narrowly lost Loudoun in the 2016 election, across the 10th District Comstock beat Bennett by nearly six points. But the 10th also heavily favored Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, voting for the Democrat by nearly 10 points. Loudoun voted for Clinton by nearly 17 points.
Last year, Virginia Democrats saw a wave election, propelling Ralph Northam to the governor’s mansion and flipping 15 Republican seats in the House of Delegates. In Loudoun, all but one delegate is now a Democrat, and Comstock now shares territory with only three Republicans in the state House of Delegates: Dels. Chris Collins (R-29), Dave A. LaRock (R-33), and Tim Hugo (R-40). Her district, which stretches from the West Virginia border to McLean, shares territory with nine Democrats in the state House of Delegates.
Comstock faces her own primary challenge from the right. Hill is an Air Force veteran and publisher of Guiding Light Books, LLC, and owner of Guiding Light University, LLC, which currently sells one course on DVD, “A Woman’s Guide to Financial Planning.”
Hill previously made an unsuccessful bid to run against U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in 2014. Hill’s campaign for the Republican nomination then was cut short by a vote by acclamation for consultant and lobbyist Ed Gillespie, who narrowly lost to Warner in that election.
On the Senate side, Republicans will select from among three candidates their nominee to pit against first-term incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine in November. E.W. Jackson, who most recently was the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, is making a second run for the seat. Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart is mounting another statewide campaign after seeking the party’s nomination for governor last year. Also running is Nick Freitas, a U.S. Army veteran who represents 30th District in the House of Delegates.