Virginia’s new congressional map was drawn to protect incumbents, and it appears to be having the desired effect.
Retired Air Force Gen. John Douglass, long considered the preferred Democratic candidate to take on veteran Rep. Frank Wolf (R), is expected to announce next week that he is shifting to run against freshman Rep. Robert Hurt (R) instead.
Douglass has not publicly revealed that decision, but his campaign issued a release Tuesday saying he would make a “major campaign announcement” March 6 and that he “will be traveling through counties in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District” — Hurt’s district — beforehand to meet with voters.
A state circuit court in Richmond on Monday dismissed a lawsuit against the new congressional district map, making it closer to a sure thing to become law. The plan now only awaits clearance from the U.S. Justice Department.
Douglass lives in Fauquier County, in what currently is Wolf’s 10th district. But his home will end up in Hurt’s 5th district as part of an elaborate shuffle that will end up boosting incumbents in both parties.
Republican map-drawers were especially keen to beef up Wolf’s district, which he has been winning with ease for years but which could be vulnerable once he retires. Few observers expected Douglass to beat Wolf, but Democrats at least hoped to make him work hard for reelection. Now it’s not clear who will take the party’s nod in that seat.
Hurt’s Charlottesville-based district was also made safer for Republicans, after the freshman lawmaker ousted Rep. Tom Perriello (D) from the seat in 2010, 51 percent to 47 percent. Retired Army Col. Peyton Williams (D) has already declared his intention to challenge Hurt.