Analyst: With Democratic challenge, Hurt still the favorite - The Daily Progress: News

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Analyst: With Democratic challenge, Hurt still the favorite

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Posted: Sunday, March 4, 2012 4:56 pm | Updated: 11:02 am, Wed Jan 23, 2013.

DANVILLE — This week, Congressman Robert Hurt, R-5th, may have some new competition in his race for reelection.

Ret. Air Force Brig. Gen. John Douglass announced last week that he will be making a formal announcement Tuesday about his decision whether to run as a Democrat in the 5th District.

Before making the announcement, Douglass has been traveling through the district to discuss his campaign.

Douglass was going to run against Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th. However, redistricting moved Douglass’s home in Fauquier County from the 10th District into the 5th.

According to a news release from Douglass’ campaign, many Democrats have encouraged him to run again. Douglass has had a long military career that includes serving as assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition under President Bill Clinton.

If Douglass runs for Hurt’s seat this year, he won’t be the only Democrat trying to do so.

Charlottesville Democrat Peyton Williams has already thrown his hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination.

On Feb. 22, when asked about this year’s campaign, Hurt said he would welcome a contest and that he and other politicians should be held “accountable” for what they do in office.

Hurt had an extremely hard-fought, close race for his seat two years ago against Democratic incumbent Tom Perriello, winning 50.8 percent of the vote.

“Historically, a congressperson is most vulnerable after their first election,” said Robert Denton, the communications department head at Virginia Tech and a political analyst for WSLS Channel 10. But, he said, there are other factors to consider.

The 2010 election was a “wave” election by the Republican Party. While there is no question that Republicans will retain Congress, they will lose some seats, according to Denton.

“In terms of this district, redistricting really strengthened the incumbents,” Denton said. “This is a pretty safe district. It would take another wave for it to be fully contested.”

A political gaffe or an exceptionally well-known Democratic candidate would increase Hurt’s vulnerability.