In Virginia, 11 candidates have announced their intention to run for the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran.
Here's the list, so far: Former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer, former Urban League of Northern Virginia president Lavern Chatman, Alexandria state Senator Adam Ebbin, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, Alexandria Delegate Charniele Herring, Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope, Alexandria Planning Commissioner Derek Hyra, radio personality Mark Levine, Arlington Delegate Alfonso Lopez, former Navy pilot Bruce Shuttleworth and Fairfax County Delegate Mark Sickles.
"You've got a lot of really well known people in Alexandria who are going to be working very hard to get numbers up," says Alexandria registrar Anna Lieder. She says turnout is likely to be about 25 percent — approximately 64,000 votes.
Considering the election results will be split between the eleven candidates, that means a successful candidate could emerge with a few thousand votes, says Kyle Kondik, an analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
"A person could say, well, if I could just mobilize a certain segment of the district to come out for me, get less than 10,000 votes I could be the next congressman and have the seat for a very long time," he says.
Ten thousand votes — for a congressional district that has almost 800,000 people. The district, which includes Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County, is heavily Democratic. In 2012, for example, President Barack Obama won the district with 68 percent of the vote.
"One potential development is a very nasty contest because when the competition is intense, the combat can be fierce," says University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Farnsworth.
More candidates could conceivably step forward, and it's possible that some of the current candidates might drop out before the filing deadline in late March.