Northern Va. congressional incumbents sail to reelection over political newcomers
By Corinne Reilly,
As was widely predicted, Northern Virginia’s congressional incumbents swept their races for reelection Tuesday, shutting out four political newcomers in anticlimactic contests.
The winners included Democrats Gerald E. Connolly and James P. Moran in the 11th and 8th districts and Republicans Frank R. Wolf and Rob Wittman in the 10th and 1st. Together they defeated three former military officers and a former federal prosecutor.
Although Connolly, 62, beat his last Republican challenger by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2010, his victory this time had been seen as all but certain, in large part because his district, which includes portions of Fairfax and Prince William counties, was redrawn to be more favorable to Democrats. He faced retired Army Col. Chris Perkins, a political outsider with far less money who had never run for elected office.
By 10:30 p.m., Perkins had conceded, handing Connolly, a former Fairfax County supervisor, his third term in Congress. Perkins had criticized Connolly as a typical career politician, promising if he won to rein in federal spending and work for a more limited role of government.
But for voter Eddie Ward, 73, who cast a ballot in Annandale, the choice was clear: “I picked Connolly,” Ward said. “He’s a local boy. He knows Fairfax County.”
In the 8th District, Moran, 67, beat Republican Patrick Murray, also a retired Army colonel, by an overwhelming margin. It was the second time Murray challenged Moran; in 2010, he lost by 24 points.
“It looks like Jim Moran has won again in a district that is tailored for him,” Murray said in an interview soon after conceding. He didn’t rule out a third run but said it was unlikely.
First elected to Congress in 1990 after serving as mayor of Alexandria, the well-known Moran won each of his previous seven elections with more than 60 percent of the vote, despite a series of controversies, and this time was no exception. Last month, Moran’s son and campaign field adviser was secretly recorded discussing possible voter fraud with an activist posing as a campaign worker, but the incident had little effect at the polls.
The 8th District was redrawn this year and now includes Arlington County, Alexandria, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County. Murray had been counting on Republican gains in the new district, along with what he called Moran’s repeated “ethical lapses” and “anger-management problems.”
But it was not enough to deny Moran a 12th term.
Virginia’s 10th District race played out similarly, with Wolf, 73, winning a 17th term over Democrat Kristin Cabral, a Harvard-educated former federal prosecutor who had won just 38 percent of the vote at midnight, with 96 percent of precincts reporting.
Running on a promise of fresh leadership, she blasted Wolf as a partisan obstructionist who is badly out of touch with the needs of women, young families and his district, which includes parts of Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties as well as rural swaths of Clarke and Frederick.
But Cabral’s largely grass-roots effort saw little success against Virginia’s longest-serving member of the House. Wolf said Tuesday night that he won, as he always has, on the merits of his record. “It’s the result of hard work, a good staff and being effective,” he said.
In the 1st District, which stretches from southern Prince William to Hampton Roads, Wittman, 53, won handily over Democrat Adam Cook, a lawyer and Air Force veteran.
Elsewhere in Virginia, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 7th District beat Democrat Wayne Powell, as expected.
In the only congressional race in the state that was seen as competitive, Republican incumbent Scott Rigell in the 2nd District defeated Democrat financier Paul Hirschbiel.