Former lieutenant governor and car dealership owner Don Beyer handily won the Democratic primary in the 8th Congressional District, putting him on a path to succeed longtime U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D).
Moran has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991 and opted not to seek re-election for his seat this year.
Beyer, whom political experts considered the front-runner from the time he entered the race, won more than 45 percent of the votes in the crowded primary. There were 10 candidates on the ballot, although several had already withdrawn from the race.
“I am honored and humbled to be your standard bearer,” Beyer told supporters. “Now we turn our attention to November ... We must carry the Virginia ideals of integrity, community, progress, and compassion forward to all voters.”
Arlington Del. Patrick Hope and state Sen. Adam Ebbin had the next highest vote totals in the primary, winning 18 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
Beyer, an Alexandria resident, served as lieutenant governor from 1990 to 1998, originally elected along with Democratic Gov. Doug Wilder and then re-elected in 1993 when Republican Gov. George Allen was elected.
Beyer remained active in Democratic politics after losing his bid for governor in 1997 to Republican Jim Gilmore, then the attorney general. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Beyer to serve as the ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, a post he held through last year.
Addressing climate change was Beyer’s top priority issue throughout the primary.
“Don ran a tremendous campaign. He distinguished himself with a deep knowledge of foreign policy, a steadfast commitment to addressing global climate change, support for common sense gun laws, and consistently strong progressive values,” Moran said in a released statement. “I’ll be proud to be his constituent.”
Despite the large number of candidates competing for the seat, and the fact that the district is considered an easy win for the Democratic nominee, the primary had extremely low turnout.
In the Fairfax County section of the district, only 6 percent of the more than 200,000 registered voters cast a ballot in the primary, which was open to any registered voter regardless of party affiliation.
Fewer than 40,000 people voted across the entire district, which includes Arlington County, the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, and most of eastern Fairfax County.
Beyer will face three more challengers on the November ballot: Republican Micah Edmond, Libertarian Jeffrey Carson and independent Gwendolyn Beck.
Edmond congratulated Beyer in a released statement and said he looks forward to engaging his opponent on their vision and record.
“Over the course of the next few weeks, I will unveil some fresh ideas that will grow the economy, improve the quality of and access to education, improve public infrastructure and strengthen our military,” Edmond said.