Top row: Don Beyer, Lavern Chatman, Adam Ebbin; middle row: Bill Euille, Charniele Herring, Patrick Hope; bottom row: Alfonzo Lopez, Bruce Shuttleworth, Mark Sickles.
In Virginia, the crowded Democratic primary to replace longtime Congressman Jim Moran is starting to take shape. So far, nine candidates have announced they are running in the June primary.
Here's the list so far: Former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer, former Urban League CEO Lavern Chatman, state Senator Adam Ebbin, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, Alexandria Delegate Charniele Herring, Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope, Arlington Delegate Alfonso Lopez, former Navy pilot Bruce Shuttleworth, and Fairfax Delegate Mark Sickles.
All those contenders means one thing: the winner won't need a lot of votes for victory. "You could win on 14,000 or 15,000 votes or less even, if you had several highly popular candidates duking it out," says Arlington Registrar Linda Lindberg.
She says predicting turnout is difficult, but her best guess would be about 20 percent of registered voters. For the eighth congressional district, that's about 72,000 votes.
And despite the roster of contenders, University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Geoff Skelly says the former lieutenant governor has a slight advantage over the other eight candidates because he won two statewide races back in the 1990s.
"Beyer has probably got the most resources and the most money and the most resources of anyone but with this many candidates in the field, I think it's difficult to say that he is absolutely the front-runner," he says.
But George Mason University professor Toni-Michelle Travis says Beyer hasn't been on the ballot since 1997, when he waged on unsuccessful campaign for governor. Since then he's been more associated with his Volvo dealership than Virginia politics.
"Having spent years in Chicago, I would raise the question: And what have you done for me lately? And I'm not sure he can connect in the way he would like to connect with the voters," she says.
The district includes Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County — a solidly Democratic area where President Obama won with 68 percent of the vote in 2012. That means the stakes are high for the June primary.