Republican Jeff Dove this week filed the paperwork to challenge Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D) in Northern Virginia in 2020, after losing last year to Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D) in a neighboring district.
Dove, an Army veteran, said he believes he has a better chance of winning the 10th Congressional District, which is held by a Democrat for the first time in nearly 40 years, than he did in the 11th District, which Connolly has represented since 2009.
Although candidates and members can live outside the districts they seek to represent and represent, Dove said he plans to move his family from Woodbridge, in Connolly’s district, to Wexton’s district before the general election.
Dove is the first Republican to challenge Wexton, who helped flip the U.S. House from red to blue in 2018 with her 12 percentage point win over Barbara Comstock, but more are expected to join the race.
Dove won about 27 percent of the vote against Connolly but said he was proud to have raised 66 percent of his campaign funding from small donors.
The percentage exceeded that of all but three 2018 Republican House and Senate candidates, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. In total, he raised about $678,000, or about one-third of Connolly’s war chest.
“After last year I realized I still had a lot of unfinished business,” Dove said. “My message resonated across the country.”
He said he plans to talk about infrastructure, immigration, cybersecurity and education during his campaign. He said he will also continue advocating for adding multifactor authentication to transactions using Social Security numbers to help prevent identity theft.
Dove, 37, grew up in Silver Spring, the son of a single mom who moved often between the Washington area and Roanoke, where he graduated from high school.
He served about three years in the Army, including a tour in Iraq where he worked as a chemical weapons specialist and was awarded the Combat Action Badge.
He graduated from Strayer University with a bachelor’s degree in information systems and works as a database engineer for a defense contractor.