WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Virginia Lt. Gov. Don Beyer won a seven-way Democratic congressional primary Tuesday night, virtually assuring he will replace longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Moran in the liberal 8th Congressional District.
“There were some very good candidates,” Beyer said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. “I thought that the clear message from the beginning about the proven leadership was effective. I’m pleased, and now we’ll set our sights on trying to duplicate this in November.”
With 159 of 163 precincts reporting, Beyer had 46 percent of the vote, far more than his closet challenger, State Del. Patrick Hope, who had 18 percent. State Sen. Adam Ebbin was third with 14 percent.
Beyer, 63, is well known in the district for his family business, Don Beyer Volvo. He served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and received key endorsements from several former Obama administration officials. Beyer was the only candidate in the race to raise more than $1 million.
Moran, a liberal Democrat, is retiring after holding the seat for 24 years. In a statement, the congressman called Beyer “the leader Northern Virginia needs in Congress.”
“I’ll be proud to be his constituent.”
Beyer ran as an experienced candidate who would work across party lines to get things done for the district. He called climate change “the single most important issue of our time” and urged passage of a carbon tax. He also said he’d continue Moran’s work on animal rights.
The seven candidates agreed on many issues, such as strong environmental and gun control regulations, the rights of gay people to get married and abortion rights.
Alice Harman, 27, a physician who lives in Rosslyn and voted for Beyer, said that his experience was the tiebreaker in the race for her.
“He has the most experience,” she said. “He was a good lieutenant governor.”
Beyer is expected to easily prevail in the general election against Republican Micah Edmond; Obama carried the district 68 percent to Mitt Romney’s 31 percent in 2012. The district borders the nation’s capital and includes Alexandria, Falls Church, Arlington County and parts of Fairfax County.
But Beyer wasn’t banking on an easy general election.
“I always distrust the conventional wisdom,” he said — an understandable stance on a night when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost to tea party-backed candidate Dave Brat in Virginia, a stunning upset. “The voter demographics are certainly favorable. But I also very much respect the fact that we have to run a real race. It’s been 24 years since it’s changed hands. I expect the Republicans will work hard. This is the first good chance they’ve had in a long time.”
Rounding out the race was Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille (8 percent); radio talk show host and constitutional attorney Mark Levine (7 percent); former Northern Virginia Urban League President Lavern Chatman (5 percent); and Virginia Tech professor Derek Hyra (1 percent).
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