Gay Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette announced late Wednesday that he has decided not to run this year for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. James Moran (D-Va.).
Fisette was among about a dozen prominent Northern Virginia politicians, including gay State Sen. Adam Ebbin, mentioned by political observers as potential candidates to run in the June 10 Democratic primary to seek the nomination for Moran’s seat in the 8th Congressional District.
The overwhelmingly Democratic district includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties and most of the City of Alexandria. The winner of the primary is expected to easily win the general election in November.
“Many friends and colleagues have asked of my interest in running for this seat and have encouraged me to run,” Fisette said in a statement. “While appreciative of those comments, I have decided that I will not seek this position,” he said.
“One reason for my decision is the contrast between the dysfunctional climate on Capitol Hill and the can-do atmosphere in Arlington,” Fisette said. “The state of politics at the national level is disheartening, with the outsized influence of shrill, well-financed forces and the disintegration of sincere efforts to forge compromise, respect one’s colleagues and realize the potential of government to make people’s lives better.”
Fisette became the first known openly gay elected official in Virginia in 1997 when he won election to an at-large seat on the five-member Arlington Board, which serves as the county’s governing body. He has won re-election four times since then by wide margins, with his latest electoral victory last year.
Although Ebbin has yet to make an official announcement, a prominent gay Democratic activist in Arlington has said “the word is out” that Ebbin plans to run for the congressional seat.
Ebbin became the first out gay to win election to the Virginia General Assembly in 2003 when he won his race for a seat in the House of Delegates. He won election to the State Senate in 2011 in a district that covers most of the territory of the 8th Congressional District.
In a related development, the Washington Post reported that Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) planned to announce on Thursday he was forming an exploratory committee to assess whether to run for the 8th District congressional seat. Businessman and former Navy fighter pilot Bruce Shuttleworth announced his candidacy for the congressional seat last week. Both are Democrats who have expressed strong support for LGBT rights as have all of the Democrats thought to be considering running for Moran’s seat.
In his statement saying he isn’t running, Fisette added, “There are many qualified Democrats who could represent the Eighth District very capably. I will work with our party’s nominee to secure a victory in the November election and keep the Eighth District in the progressive ranks.”