Virginia 5: Hurt to Retire, Leaves Potentially Competitive Seat

Nathan L. Gonzales December 23, 2015 · 4:02 PM EST

Three-term GOP Rep. Robert Hurt announced his retirement, leaving behind a potentially competitive open seat in Virginia. 

The 5th District includes Charlottesville but runs south to the border with North Carolina. 

On one hand, the district is competitive. Democrat Tom Perriello defeated GOP Rep. Virgil Goode by 727 votes in 2008 and Barack Obama only lost the district that year by 3 points to John McCain. 

On the other hand, 2008 was a historic Democratic year. Hurt defeated Perriello 51-47 percent in 2010, a great Republican year. But Mitt Romney also carried the 5th District by 7 points in 2012. And Republican Ken Cuccinelli won the district by 10 points, 51-41 percent, over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the 2013 gubernatorial race, according to Daily Kos Elections.

We’re going to keep our Safe rating for Republicans as the dust settles and wait for Democrats to prove that this is a serious takeover opportunity.

Hurt’s decision was a surprise to multiple GOP sources and now the field to replace him is likely to be crowded. 

State Sen. Tom Garrett announced earlier this afternoon, while at least a handful of other potential candidates are mentioned, including state Sens. William Stanley Jr. and Jill Holtzman Vogel (who has some personal wealth), Del. Robert Bell, former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton (who has been mentioned as a potential candidate before), and the congressman’s brother, former Washington Times columnist/Drudge Report writer Charlie Hurt. 

On the Democratic side, Albemarle County Supervisor Jane Dittmar got into the race in September and former Perriello aide Ericke Cage has been in the race since the spring, according to Roll Call. Perriello, who succeeded former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold at the State Department, could make a comeback attempt as well.