#VA08: Tonight’s Opportunity to Shift Congress to the Left

There’s a House seat up-for-grabs in tonight’s primary election that is fairly similar to PA-13 in at least one way: the retiring Democratic House member wasn’t necessarily a bad Democrat, but they also certainly didn’t use their deep blue seat to push any progressive barriers. That’s the situation VA-08 is in right now with retiring Representative Jim Moran and the many Democrats vying to replace him tonight.

Anecdotally, it seems clear that progressives felt better about Mr. Moran’s platforms in general than most progressives do about somebody like Representative Schwartz — but as you can see to the right, their progressive voting scores are relatively similar.

What’s more, the Democratic constituents of Virginia’s 8th congressional district are seeming setting themselves up to make a similar misstep, just as the voters of Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district did.

The seemingly guaranteed winner in this primary is former Virginia Lt. Gov Don Beyer, based on the one publicly released poll from former candidate Bruce Shuttleworth (who garnered three percent in said poll, the main reason for his departure). The other candidates will rightfully tell you that this poll was taken over a month ago, primary elections are low turnout, etc. — but it still remains very difficult to see how anybody overtakes Mr. Beyer at this point in time, as a 21-point lead (even with the aforementioned caveats) is extremely difficult to overtake without serious missteps by the front-runner.

While there doesn’t seem to be much wrong with Mr. Beyer — VA-08 Democrats aren’t taking advantage of their blue district to replace a decent Democrat with a progressive one at zero risk. Remember, Barack Obama won this district 68-31 in 2012.

So we’re the PA-13 syndrome all over again. And while Mr. Beyer is seemingly nowhere as bad as Brendan Boyle, Democrats are likely to make the same mistake tonight in choosing the same old type of Democrat to represent them instead of a true progressive who could lead their D+16 the way it deserves to be led.