By Joe Beck
Democrats in the 6th Congressional District are casting about for someone to challenge U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, after their only declared candidate dropped out of the race last week due to health reasons.
The decision by Bruce Elder, a Staunton City Council member, left one Republican challenger, high school teacher Paul Bevington.
Elder told Democratic party officials in an email message that doctors removed a cancerous growth from his left cheek earlier this month.
"Yesterday, I learned I will need nearly two months of daily radiation treatments to make sure the cancer is gone," Elder wrote. "These treatments will leave me tired and make it difficult to speak and swallow."
Joe Fitzgerald, the Democrats' 6th District chairman, said Elder's departure has left his party scrambling to find a replacement candidate.
"Bruce was a strong candidate, and he was ready for a fight, and we're sorry he won't be able to do it," Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald said there has been no formal effort to recruit a new candidat, "but there are conversations going on that may bear fruit."
Molly Snyder, chairman of the Warren County Democratic Committee, said the sheer length of the district stretching from Roanoke in the south to Front Royal in the north is a daunting obtacle to mounting an effective campaign.
"I just wish Bruce the best and that he take care of himself," Snyder said.
Fitzgerald said the district is an especially tough one for Democrats. Goodlatte won election to Congress in 1992, and Republican candidates have dominated in most races from presidential elections on down.
"It's always hard to find somebody to run against Goodlatte," Fitzgerald said. "It's not a liberal district, but the seat is always going to be there, and we're always going to keep challenging him."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org