Democrats compete for ‘most progressive’ in a primary field of 10 for congressional seat


A field of 10 candidates takes questions from voters at a Mt. Vernon District Democratic candidate forum to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Moran in Alexandria on Saturday. (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

Patrick A. Hope, a Virginia state delegate from Arlington County who is running for the House of Representatives, stood on a wind-blown corner outside the Internal Revenue Service building Monday and called on Congress to tax million-dollar incomes at 45 percent.

Hope is one of 10 Democrats seeking to replace retiring Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.) in the liberal 8th District. Like Hope, each is trying to stake out positions appealing to the left.

Candidate Don Beyer, a former lieutenant governor, has called for a ban on super PACs to reduce the influence of money in politics.

Radio talk-show host Mark Levine calls himself the “aggressive progressive,” and former Navy pilot Bruce Shuttleworth calls himself the “progressive warrior.”

The winner of the Democratic nomination will be heavily favored in the general election, given the strong Democratic tilt of the district, where President Obama won two of three votes in 2012. More than 70 percent of voters in Arlington County and Alexandria supported Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) last fall. The rest of the district, which includes Falls Church and part of Fairfax County, is similarly dark blue.

It’s still early in the race — the primary is June 10. But in their news releases and at the first face-to-face forum Saturday night, all 10 candidates took nearly identical positions on guns, abortion, climate change, gay rights, raising the minimum wage and drug laws.

Outside the IRS Monday, Hope endorsed the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget, which would restore Clinton-era tax rates for those earning between $250,000 and $1 million a year and raise taxes on those who earn more.

“Our taxes to the federal government fund the important government programs that we often take for granted,” he said. “Everything from food safety to our national defense — protecting our air and water and funding health-care programs all come from our federal taxes. But these federal programs and others are under attack in Congress by members of Congress in both parties who say we can’t afford to maintain them. . . . I reject that premise completely.”

Other candidates have turned to celebrity endorsements and fundraisers, including Lavern Chatman, the former chief executive of the Northern Virginia Urban League, who brought Oprah Winfrey in for a fundraiser this month. Philanthropist Sheila Johnson hosted a fundraiser Monday night for Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille. The PACs of the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority and the Women’s Campaign Fund have lined up behind state Del. Char­niele L. Herring of Alexandria.

The other Democratic candidates are Derek Hyra, a professor at Virginia Tech; entrepreneur Satish Korpe; and state Sen. Adam P. Ebbin of Alexandria.

Federal campaign finance reports are to be released late Tuesday, but a few candidates have released some information early. Beyer said he raised $668,000 in the first quarter, Chatman said she had raised $200,000 in three weeks, and Hope said he had collected $185,000. Hope made his tax return public and urged others to release their returns.

Republicans will nominate their candidate at a convention on April 26. Micah Edmond, an aerospace lobbyist; Paul Haring, a former Texas state representative; and Dennis Bartow, a small-business owner, have declared their interest.

Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

Patricia Sullivan seeks out news about Alexandria and Arlington County for the Washington Post.
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