The retirement announcement by seventeen term incumbent Congressman Frank Wolf has campaign analysts predicting a bloody Republican primary and then general election fight in Northern Virginia.
A fairly safe Republican House seat just became the commonwealth’s second battleground district. Wolf has served the tenth district in Congress since 1980, and was able to keep his seat even as President Obama won the district in two thousand eight.
Kyle Kondik is a campaign analyst with the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
“We’re calling this race a tossup for now. We believe that both sides at this particular moment have about an equal chance to win it. We had it rated as likely Republican until Wolf dropped out. This race just got a whole lot competitive.”
State Delegate Barbara Comstock is expected to hop in the primary. And former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis is rumored to be eyeing a Virginia run now that he’s switched parties. Kondik says we could also see former gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli enter, which could focus the primary debate on issues important to his tea party base.
“I don’t think the way to win the primary is to be a moderate. Now it might be helpful in the general election provided whoever makes it. But I think the Republicans will probably have a pretty credible nominee, but it’s too soon to tell who exactly that’s going to be at this point.”
Even though Wolf is a Republican, he’s respected by Democrats as a pragmatic moderate. Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner says he’ll be missed.
“It worries me when I see folks of goodwill in both parties walk away in droves, because at the end of the day the only way we’re going to be able to get our country back on path is to continue to have people in both parties who are willing to find that common ground.”
Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust is running on the Democratic side, though others may hop in the race now that Wolf is out.