Roger Manno and Jennifer Wexton. Image from the candidates' Twitter profiles.

Our region has two hotly contested Democratic primaries for Congress, in Maryland's 6th district and Virginia's 10th. Greater Greater Washington endorses Roger Manno for MD-06 and Jennifer Wexton for VA-10.

Despite representing two separate states, the two districts are not so different. Both start with a chunk of suburban communities and some walkable urban places in our region. The districts then straddle either side of the Potomac River in increasingly rural territory to the West Virginia border and surround the West Virginia panhandle.

Roger Manno for MD-06

The Maryland 6th includes Gaithersburg, North Potomac, Clarksburg, Frederick, and western Maryland. Congressman John Delaney is stepping down to run for President (already). We received questionnaire responses from two Democrats, state senator Roger Manno and businessman David Trone, and from Republican Lisa Lloyd. Aruna Miller, a state delegate, is also widely considered a third front-runner along with Manno and Trone, but she did not return our questionnaire, nor did Nadia Hashimi or Andrew Duck.

Manno had the clearly best responses on our questionnaire. On the head-to-head rating tool we created, where readers compared two anonymous responses, Manno's answer won 74% of the time, Trone's 51%, and Lloyd's only 8%.

Manno has been a consistent supporter of transit, walking, and bicycling in the state house. In his questionnaire, he talked about supporting transit funding for Congress, and also particularly touted his record on bicycle and pedestrian issues:

In the Maryland General Assembly I have been a leading advocate for bicyclists. I successfully introduced legislation to establish the Task Force to Study Bicycle Safety on Maryland highways. The important work of this Task Force can be a transformative step in providing equal access to our road networks for cyclists. Working with Bike Maryland, I have also introduced much needed legislation to require drivers to come to a full stop for cyclists waiting to cross roadways at crosswalks. Furthermore, with pedestrian deaths at a 25 year high it is more important than ever that short, medium and long term road planning includes funding for incorporating pedestrian safety best practices.

He did suggest he may support widening some roads, writing, “When evaluating new road construction projects (as opposed to road and intersection improvements), my preference is improving existing road capacity (such as I-270), as opposed to new road construction.” But more broadly, he wrote, “I prefer growth through transit-oriented development that provides meaningful access to pedestrians and bicycles, not just as an accommodation but as an incentivized form of travel.”

David Trone wrote that “I believe we should continue to focus future jobs and housing in those areas where we already have town centers, transit services, walkable communities, and other public infrastructure in place and preserve valuable open space for future generations,” and he spoke positively about funding for Metro (as did Manno). However, his answers were far more vague.

Contributors also were concerned about his experience so far and views on other issues. One wrote, “I am turned off by his being a wealthy businessperson trying to buy a seat. This was his m.o. when he ran in my district MD-08 two years ago.” Another noted that his campaign manager is Rich Parsons, one of Montgomery County's main highway lobbyists. There have also been some (not widely confirmed) reports of “misogyny and sexism” in the campaign.

Lloyd, the Republican, said in her questionnaire that she does not support federal funding going to transit or for pedestrian and bicycle improvements (but is for sidewalks, perhaps though not federally funded). She would address growth by removing all restrictions on housing.

We encourage Democratic voters in Maryland's 6th District to choose Roger Manno on June 26 (and have no endorsement in the Republican primary).

Runners steps from the edge of the 10th. Image by Elvert Barnes licensed under Creative Commons.

Jennifer Wexton for VA-10

The Virginia 10th covers the Winchester area, all of Loudoun County, western Prince William and Manassas, and some “fingers” into Fairfax County that hit southern Fairfax, Chantilly, and part of McLean in the north.

The race to represent this district is one of the nation's most closely watched. Incumbent Barbara Comstock (R) won re-election by 6 points in 2016 while the district went for Hillary Clinton by 10 points, making this a top target for Democrats hoping to retake the House.

Six Democrats are hoping for that chance, and three — Julia Biggins (an infectious disease scientist), Dan Helmer (an Army veteran), and Jennifer Wexton (a sitting state senator) — responded to our questionnaire. Helmer and Wexton performed strongest in the head-to-head rating.

We are choosing Senator Wexton because of her strong experience at the local and commonwealth levels. Her district spans parts of Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the heart of the 10th, and she has been a supporter of transit and smart growth in the senate (despite her district being somewhat exurban).

She wrote on the questionnaire,

I believe higher density development should be clustered closer to Metro and other transit hubs, and low density be maintained in the areas that are not served by public transportation and do not currently have access to municipal water and sewer. New or re-developments should follow the “live, work, play” model to the extent possible, to allow for apartment/condo/townhome residential within walking distance of commercial office and retail development, so that people are less dependent on their cars and are better able to walk or bike to destinations that are part of their daily routine.

Regarding federal transportation policy, Wexton talked about “reinstating tax incentives for employers that provide transit benefits to employees” that the recent tax cut bill eliminated. And she opposes “selling off public assets, especially when it means we will be privatizing assets.”

Helmer had strong criticisms of Comstock's bill on Metro. He said, “While she tries to hail it as a way to secure funding for the system, it's mostly just a way to strip WMATA workers of their rights while giving almost complete control to DC, Richmond, and Annapolis (which have limited interest in improving Metro's service).”

On transportation, he wrote,

While I recognize that road improvement / expansion is required, I firmly believe that we need to increase funding for mass transit, bicycle, and pedestrian based infrastructure. The federal government should set the example for state and local governments by offering funding options (either through matching funding or grants) to states and cities that make concerted efforts to reduce traffic congestion and pollution through improvements that drive people to mass transit or bicycle transportation.

Biggins had similar sentiments, writing, “Federal investment should not be focused on creating more room for more cars, adding to our carbon footprint and increasing congestion. As a congresswoman, i would support the majority of our federal investment being directed at fixing crumbling infrastructure and building a larger mass transit network.”

All talked about the importance of affordable housing and funding HUD programs, though Wexton had the most detailed discussion of the issue. While there are many good candidates, Senator Wexton's experience and connection to pivotal Loudoun County make us believe she has the best chance of victory and deserves our endorsement.

Although invited, neither Republican candidate responded to our questionnaire, so we make no endorsement in that primary.

This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington. All endorsements are decided by our volunteer Elections Committee with input from our board and other volunteer committees. Want to keep up on other endorsement posts? Check out our 2018 primary summary page and sign up for our weekly elections newsletter.