Seeing no path to victory, three of the 10 Democratic candidates looking to succeed retiring Rep. James P. Moran in Virginia dropped out in rapid succession in the past week — slightly dwindling a still-crowded field in next month's primary.
Engineer Satish Korpe dropped out of the 8th District contest last week, followed by state Del. Charniele Herring on Monday and businessman Bruce Shuttleworth on Wednesday.
Their exits come too late for them to be removed from the June 10 primary ballot. Earlier this year, state Dels. Mark Sickles and Alfonso Lopez also dropped out of the race . Their departures came before ballots were finalized.
Democratic operatives say the dwindling field is a result of coinciding rise of three clear front-runners: former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, state Sen. Adam Ebbin and state Del. Patrick Hope.
"I thought that was going to happen earlier, but I did think there would be the great winnowing at a certain point," said Democratic state Del. Bob Brink, who supports Beyer.
Beyer's cash advantage and familiarity with voters in this Northern-Virginia-based district, thanks to the multiple car dealerships that bear his name, makes him the leading contender in the contest, according to Democratic operatives.
Hope's base in the Arlington section of the district, where about 40 percent of the vote is expected to come from. Ebbin, who was backed this week by Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Keith Ellison of Minnesota, has represented the area in the General Assembly for a decade.
Pre-primary reports for the remaining candidates in the race are due to the Federal Election Commission on May 29 . The filings will show how much the candidates raised between April 1 and May 21, and will shed light on how much money each candidate has to communicate with voters over the race's final days in one of the priciest media markets in the country.
President Barack Obama carried the 8th District by a 37-point margin in 2012, and the race is rated Safe Democratic by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.