Virginia Del. Barbara Comstock (R) is jumping into the race to replace her former boss, Rep. Frank WolfFrank WolfBottom Line 10 most expensive House races Benghazi Report and Hillary: What it means for Philadelphia MORE (R-Va.).
"I am running for Congress because I believe my strong record as a common sense conservative leader is what is needed in Congress," Comstock said in a statement released Monday morning.
"I know how to effectively fight for Northern Virginia's hard working taxpayers having first learned from Congressman Wolf working in his congressional office."
Comstock, a consultant and former staffer for Wolf with deep ties to the Washington GOP establishment, has long been expected to run for his seat following his retirement. She began gearing up in earnest for a run once Wolf announced in late December he wouldn't seek another term.
She's proven herself a dogged campaigner and strong fundraiser in previous runs for the statehouse, winning a highly contested reelection race last year. Comstock was also a top Virginia surrogate for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and has ties to former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), who is supporting her likely run for Wolf's seat.
Some national strategists believe she gives the party the best shot at holding onto the northern Virginia swing district, which Democrats are hoping they can pick off now that Wolf is retiring.
But she'll likely face competition from the GOP's more conservative wing. Former Virginia state Sen. Richard Black (R), a favorite of social conservatives, is likely to run, as is Frederick County Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Shickle (R). Other Republicans considering a bid include former congressional candidate Keith Fimian (R), who ran in an adjacent district, former Prince William County Board of Supervisors member John Stirrup, attorney Beau Correll and state Dels. James LeMunyon and Randall Minchew.
Local Republicans still have until Jan. 23 to decide whether to choose their nominee in a party convention, a process that has nominated flawed candidates much to the right of the electorate in past years, or open the process up to a primary. National Republicans are nervous about nominating a candidate who's too conservative and might not be able to hold onto the seat and are pressing for an open primary.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member John Foust (D) and attorney Richard Bolger (D) had already been running against Wolf, but the Democratic field might expand as well.