WILLIAMSBURG -- Philip Forgit set out on the road less traveled Monday.
While there's a traffic jam of eight Republican candidates hoping to win the GOP nomination of the 1st District congressional seat left open by the death of Rep. Jo Ann Davis, Forgit is the only Democrat to announce for the seat so far.
Forgit, a former teacher who was recently awarded the Bronze Star for his service in the Iraq War, ran a surprisingly strong race in the 96th House of Delegates district in 2003.
Like the 96th, the 1st District is a long-time Republican stronghold.
That isn't deterring the candidate.
"I didn't go to Iraq to fight for a democracy, only to come home to an uncontested election for our congressional representative," he said. "I am stepping forward so that there will be an election in the 1st Congressional District. I've been on a ballot before in a tough, close race and I am ready to run, with a background and beliefs that will appeal to voters in the 1st CD."
Democrats will choose their nominee in a convention at Colonial Williamsburg's Woodlands Hotel & Suites on Nov. 10, the same day Republicans will pick their nominee.
The special election in the 1st District will be held Dec. 11,Forgit, 40, said he's prepared for the hectic pace of a short election.
"I'll sleep when I'm dead," he sad, quoting the late singer-songwriter Warren Zevon.
Forgit taught fourth grade at Rawls Byrd Elementary school until his Naval Reserve unit was mobilized for Iraq. He served with the Naval Special Warfare unit as an adviser to the Iraqi Army in 2005-06 and was awarded the Bronze Star, in part for his creation of a literacy program for Iraqi intelligence personnel.
In 2005 Forgit was selected for a National Education Association Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence. Since returning to the United States from Iraq, he's used the $35,000 prize money that came with that award to establish a company to make a documentary on Iraqi soldiers and their families.
James City County Democratic Committee chairman Ralph Bresler said Monday that Forgit will likely have strong support from area Democrats.
"I've heard from many on the Peninsula and even from areas beyond the Peninsula who are happy he's chosen to run" he said.
Bresler said there are several other Democrats who have expressed an interest in running for the seat.
"He (Forgit) is the only one who's reached the point of actually announcing," Bresler said.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times