Patrick served as deputy undersecretary of defense for industrial policy under Bush and is a former Navy commander — positions that will likely endear her to voters in the district, which includes a particularly large veteran population. 

She also comes from a military family, a fact she noted in the statement accompanying her announcement.

“As a fourth-generation military officer, I've dedicated my entire career to service — under Democrats and Republicans alike — and I am determined to restore the bipartisan problem solving that prevailed during the Reagan Administration when I first started my Navy career as a civilian," Patrick said.

The reference to former President Reagan is a nod to the slight red tint of Virginia's 2nd District, and the fact that Patrick plans to frame herself as a "centrist Democrat," according to the release.

President Obama narrowly carried the district twice, however, giving Democrats hope they'll be able to take down Rigell this cycle. They plan, in particular, to hammer him for the mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, for which they charge Republicans hold responsibility.

"Congressman Rigell's voting record and his partisanship, especially on the sequester, has made life tougher for the military, families and seniors. It’s time to put aside the partisan bickering, focus on prioritizing our spending, and start fixing problems for our middle class families,” Patrick said.