Another candidate has joined the crowded field of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) in next year’s midterm elections.
David B. Hanson, a retired Naval intelligence officer from Clifton, said Friday he will run for the Northern Virginia seat and plans to file the paperwork to begin fundraising this month.
Hanson is the fifth Democrat to jump into the race. State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, a former prosecutor; Lindsey Davis Stover, a former Obama administration official; Dan Helmer, an Army veteran; and Kimberly Adams, past president of the Fairfax teachers union, have announced their campaigns, and more hopefuls are expected to join them.
The early attention on the 2018 race is an indication that Democrats think they have a chance to unseat Comstock, who overcame Trump’s unpopularity in the 10th Congressional District last year to win a second term by six points.
There are only three GOP-held seats where Trump performed worse than he did in her district, according to the Cook Political Report, which considers the contest a toss-up.
The University of Virginia Center for Politics on Thursday also rated the race a toss-up, despite Comstock’s recent vote against the American Health Care Act, which experts say could help her woo the district’s moderate and independent voters.
Hanson, a political newcomer, said he was inspired to run after watching President Trump win the election and his transition team install leaders seemingly at odds with the missions of their agencies, from education to environmental protection.
“The results of the election, I think, are a challenge to American democracy,” he said in an interview Thursday. “I can’t stand by and watch what is happening right now from the sidelines.”
Hanson, 59, had a 24-year career in intelligence from 1984 to 2008, including deployments to the Persian Gulf, Britain, Kosovo, Honolulu and other locations. During the Cold War, he developed an expertise in Russian linguistics and went on to run counterterrorism and intelligence programs for large sections of the globe after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He has an MBA from Oxford University, and master’s degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School and the Naval War College, he said.
Hanson said he could win the support of intelligence officers, many of whom live and work in the 10th District. He announced his candidacy two days after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, whose agency is probing Trump officials’ ties to Russia.
“It’s kind of serendipitous,” he said. “What’s going on right now with the Russia investigation is of transcendent importance to our democracy, and we have to get this on track in a way that’s fair but does get to the bottom of it.”
A native of Wisconsin who grew up in Minnesota, Hanson said he and his wife bought a house in Fairfax County about 20 years ago and lived there in between assignments until moving to Clifton full time at the end of his Navy service. They have three children.
Hanson said he finished hiking the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail in 2010, is a member of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and volunteers with Fairfax County’s Community Emergency Response Team.