(Updated at 10:00 p.m.) By a wide margin, former Virginia lieutenant governor Don Beyer has captured the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. Jim Moran in Congress.
With all precincts reporting in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, Beyer had 46 percent of the vote, compared to 18 and 14 percent respectively for runners up Del. Patrick Hope and state Sen. Adam Ebbin.
Rounding out the seven active candidates in the race, Alexandria mayor Bill Euille had 8 percent of the vote, lawyer and pundit Mark Levine had 7 percent, former Northern Virginia Urban League president Lavern Chatman had 5 percent, and Virginia Tech professor Derek Hyra had 1 percent.
“Tonight is the culmination of the hard work, the heartfelt values, and the shared ideas of many, many, many good people,” Beyer, 63, said in a statement. “I am honored and humbled to be your standard bearer.. Now we turn our attention to November… We must carry the Virginia ideals of integrity, community, progress, and compassion forward to all voters.”
Just past 7:40 p.m., via Twitter, Hope conceded the race.
“I just called @DonBeyerVA to congratulate him on his victory tonight,” Hope said. “Congratulations and I look forward to voting for him in November.”
Other candidates, including Ebbin and Levine, soon followed suit. Moran, who’s retiring after 12 terms, released a statement congratulating Beyer on his victory.
“Don ran a tremendous campaign,” Moran said. “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. He’s the leader Northern Virginia needs in Congress. I’ll be proud to be his constituent.”
Moran and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe were among the Democratic officials to attend Beyer’s victory party at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation on the Old Town Alexandria waterfront. Also spotted at the party was former candidate Bruce Shuttleworth and his family, Arlington County Board candidate Alan Howze and Del. Alfonso Lopez.
Hope, the only Arlington-based candidate in the race, performed best in his home county. Hope had 33 percent of the vote in Arlington compared to Beyer’s 39 percent.
Hope, at his election party at the Greene Turtle in Ballston, told dozens of his yellow-shirt-clad supporters that he was proud of the campaign he ran.
“None of us could keep up with Don Beyer,” he said. “A lot of Virginia Democrats see Don Beyer the way national Democrats see Al Gore. They wonder what would have been if the voters had been smart enough to vote for him for governor.”
Turnout was relatively light in Arlington. Just after polls closed, Arlington County General Registrar Linda Lindberg said her earlier estimate of 10-12 percent voter turnout would likely prove “pretty close.” With 14,411 votes cast in Arlington, turnout was just above 10 percent.
While some north Arlington precincts reported double-digit turnout, Lindberg suggested that south Arlington turnout was comparatively lower. One Crystal City precinct reported 2-3 percent turnout, she said.
Beyer, who owns an eponymous chain of car dealerships, has long been considered a favorite in the race. He held an advantage in name recognition and led the crowded field of Democratic hopefuls in fundraising. This morning, he was featured in a New York Times article that focused on his allegiance to President Obama.
After serving as a regional finance chairman for Obama’s 2008 campaign, Beyer was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. He served from 2009-2013.
In his victory declaration, Beyer channeled the president’s 2008-era slogans of hope and change, saying: ”The last few weeks, I have taken to quoting St. Augustine of Hippo, who said, ‘Hope has two beautiful daughters, Anger and Courage. Anger about the way things are. And Courage to change them.’”
Beyer ran on a platform that included issues like climate change, gun safety and income and wealth inequality. His campaign says its 368 volunteers helped to knock on 164,000 doors during the course of the race.
Virginia’s 8th District encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County. It’s considered one of the safest Democratic districts in the County, leading the New York Times to declare the winner of today’s primary “all but guaranteed to win the seat.”
Hope told ARLnow.com after his speech that he felt his message of “giving a voice to the voiceless” was heard, and that he plans to continue doing that in the General Assembly. Hope was asked his thoughts about being the only Arlington-based candidate in the race on election day, despite Arlington being the 8th District’s most populous locality.
“I know some elected officials from Arlington thought about it,” he said. “I know [Arlington County Board Chair] Jay Fisette and [County Board member] Walter Tejada thought about it. Some people wanted someone from Arlington to represent them, but a lot of people just wanted the best candidate.”
Beyer will face Republican Micah Edmond in the November general election.