Reps. Gerald E. Connolly and A. Donald McEachin on Thursday endorsed a state senator from Loudoun County for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Barbara Comstock.
State Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton is one of four Democrats who want to unseat Comstock (R) in a 2018 midterm contest that could be among the nation’s most competitive.
Democrats are targeting the Northern Virginia district and others like it that voted for Hillary Clinton but are held by Republican members of Congress.
The early endorsements for Wexton come two days after Dorothy McAuliffe, the wife of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and a close friend of the Clintons, said she is “seriously considering” running for the seat.
If the state’s first lady decides to run, Virginia Democrats could find themselves in an awkward position, having to choose between a popular state senator and the wife of a powerhouse fundraiser with a national network.
Earlier this week, six state senators, including four with constituents in the 10th Congressional District — Sens. Janet D. Howell, Dave W. Marsden, Jeremy S. McPike and J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen — endorsed Wexton.
Following the announcement of her candidacy, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report moved the 10th District race to its “toss-up” list. Analysts considered the race up a toss-up leaning Republican last year, and Comstock won a second term by six points despite sharing a ballot with Donald Trump, who lost the district by 10 points.
Wexton, a former prosecutor, has served in the legislature since 2004.
“She has an excellent track record of introducing — and passing — legislation that matters to people,” Connolly (D) said in a statement. “Jennifer does her homework, works across the aisle, she gets things done, and she shows up. She is the sort of legislator we need in Congress.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Emily’s List, which backs women who support abortion rights, recruited Wexton, but neither group is taking a public position on the primary.
McEachin (D), a DCCC regional vice chair responsible for fundraising and other tasks in states from Virginia to Florida, encouraged her to run with a letter quoting Thomas Paine from “The Crisis.”
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman,” he wrote. “You and I are not sunshine patriots. Your country needs you. The time has come for all hands on deck.”
Two other Democrats have filed the paperwork to raise money: Lindsey Davis Stover, a former Obama administration official, and Dan Helmer, an Army veteran and Rhodes scholar. Kimberly Adams, past president of the Fairfax County teachers union, has also said she will run for the nomination.