Super Tuesday may not be until March 3, 2020, but with an incredibly crowded field of high-profile Democrats already running for the nomination—21 had announced their candidacies at press time—the handshaking, baby holding and stump speeching have already started. Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke was the first to make a swing through Northern Virginia on April 17, with stops including Pimenta Jamaican restaurant in Fredericksburg for a meet-and-greet and a town hall at the Crowne Plaza Old Town in Alexandria on April 17.
The former Texas Rep. may have been the first, but he most certainly won’t be the only. Although Virginia—and particularly Northern Virginia—has been reliably blue in the last three presidential election cycles, it’s still a must-visit for candidates, says Mark J. Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. “Looking toward the presidential primaries, any Democratic candidate thinking at this stage about Virginia needs to be in Northern Virginia,” says the longtime political analyst. “That’s where the progressive votes are. That’s where the money is. It’s that simple.”
While candidates are more focused on early primary states at the moment, expect more opportunities to see the candidates locally as the fight to nab the nomination heats up. “[Northern Virginia] is the ideal place for Democratic aspirants,” says Rozell. “The population growth in this region has been phenomenal in recent years. The power center of politics has really shifted to Northern Virginia and candidates want to come here to mobilize core Democratic Party support and raise money.” So whether you’re a political junkie who leans blue, or you’re planning to vote red, primary season promises to bring the race right to our backyard.
This post originally appeared in our June 2019 issue.