The new respective leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties, Tim Kaine and Michael Steele, are both from the DC metro area. And the President is a former Senator, when most of his modern predecessors were Governors. Though both Kaine and Steele are going to spend a lot of time and money making things play in Peoria, "beyond the Beltway" politics seem to be out of fashion.
DCist picked up on this, too.
In recent years, Virginia has served as evidence of how the Democratic Party may retain hope in otherwise conservative states -- Kaine, former Governor and current Senator Mark Warner, and Senator Jim Webb have proven that the Commonwealth is no more red than it is a rich shade of purple. And while Maryland has been a relatively consistent Democratic state, Steele's choice represents the gravity which many Republicans lend to the need to attract the diversity of voters in the D.C. suburbs, exurbs, and beyond. For two parties that are increasingly looking to amplify their national message and appeal, they've chosen a regional battleground to do so.
This doesn't mean that local matters will be elevated to national status, but it does suggest that both parties see their future in expansion. The question remains whether this is demographic expansion or ideological expansion. That is, although Dems are getting better at talking with conservatives around the country, they are probably winning in Virginia because the northern Virginia suburbs are becoming more diverse rather than because of a renewed progressive ethos in the hollers of Appalachia.
In any event, 2010 should be an awesome battle.