A Democratic Brawl in Virginia May Put a House Seat in Play

Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, in the suburbs of Washington, was never meant to be a linchpin in the battle for control of the House. But with the ugliest Democratic primary campaign of 2024 finally ending, national Democrats may be nervously watching as the results roll in on Tuesday night.

The front-runner, State Representative Dan Helmer, is fending off a last-minute accusation of sexual harassment that he strenuously denies. Another top candidate, Eileen Filler-Corn, has been attacked by a progressive political action committee over a donation to a pro-Israel group that then endorsed her.

One of the field’s top fund-raisers, Krystle Kaul, faces charges of embellishing her résumé well beyond the usual flourishes of a political campaign. And amid the flying mud, another front-runner, State Senator Suhas Subramanyam, beat back a report that he improperly put employees of his State Senate staff on his campaign payroll, an accusation he says is categorically false.

All of this is a surprisingly brutal coda to the political story of Representative Jennifer Wexton, the current Democratic representative who flipped a Republican seat in the 2018 wave, then announced her retirement last year after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder, for which there is no effective treatment.

A dozen Democrats are in the race to succeed her, many with sterling political résumés. Ms. Filler-Corn was the first woman and first Jewish speaker of the Virginia State House. Mr. Subramanyam is a current state senator for much of the district. Mr. Helmer is a Rhodes scholar and an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and as a member of the Virginia House.

But those backgrounds and ambitions laid the groundwork for a campaign that has scorched the earth of what was once Republican horse country and is now a diverse suburban landscape. Many of the candidates know one another — Mr. Helmer was part of a group of Virginia State House Democrats who ousted Ms. Filler-Corn as their leader in 2022 after the party lost control of the chamber. And much to the dismay of local party leaders, many of the bigger names refused to drop out and rally around a rival in order to consolidate the field.

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