Bruce Shuttleworth, who sued for the right to run against Rep. Jim Moran in next month's Democratic primary, made the June 12 ballot and is now accusing the incumbent of having tried to end his campaign before it even started.
Shuttleworth, an Arlington native and former Navy pilot, is running automated phone calls around the heavily Democratic Northern Virginia district to raise his name recognition and alert voters that Moran has a primary opponent.
Shuttleworth argues that Moran "fights for himself" rather than his constituents. But he's also making an issue of what he said was a concerted effort by Moran and the state party, which is run by Moran's brother, Brian Moran, to keep Shuttleworth off the ballot.
The Virginia Democratic Party ruled in March that Shuttleworth didn't have the 1,000 petition signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. Shuttleworth, who said he turned in 1,800 signatures, sued. The state party ultimately reversed itself, with officials saying they discovered dozens of previously misplaced petitions pages. Party officials insist there was no effort to prevent Shuttleworth from challenging Moran.
"Characterizations of this as politicized or that there were decisions made by party leaders, that is inaccurate," party spokesman Brian Coy told The Washington Examiner.
Shuttleworth dropped his lawsuit, but he sees the issue as evidence that Moran needs to be replaced.
"I have not received an apology or an offer to pay for the substantial costs I incurred with the legal challenge," Shuttleworth said.
Shuttleworth will challenge Moran to a debate before next month's vote, and Moran's campaign said he's eager to discuss his record.
"Congressman Moran has dedicated his life to serving Northern Virginia," Moran spokesman Austin Durrer said. "Through his work on the appropriations committee, our economy has benefited significantly, becoming one of the strongest in the nation."
Moran is among the most liberal Democrats in the House, but Shuttleworth portrays himself as even more progressive, saying he backs the creation of a universal health care system and green-energy initiatives.
Virginia's 8th Congressional District includes Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County and has been a Democratic stronghold for two decades.
Moran coasted to victory in every election since he first won the seat in 1990, beating back challenges not just from Republicans but from fellow Democrats. Moran won 87 percent of the vote in his 2008 primary race with Matthew Famiglietti and took 59 percent in 2004 against Andrew Rosenberg. He did not face a primary opponent in 2010 or 2006.
According to federal election filings, Moran had $413,000 in his campaign coffers as of March 31. Shuttleworth had $31,000, most of it his own money.