The shuffling of more than a million voters caused by the redrawing of congressional district boundaries and the retirement of an incumbent lawmaker have led to a full slate of candidates in Hampton Roads federal elections this year.
In two of the region’s three congressional districts, voters will participate in June 14 primary elections to select party nominees, according to a list of qualified candidates issued Tuesday by the state Department of Elections. In Virginia, where voters do not register by party, primaries are open to all voters.
This year’s congressional elections have drawn more attention after the court-ordered redrawing of district boundaries in response to a successful lawsuit that argued the General Assembly packed too many black voters in the 3rd Congressional District.
The courts changed the political makeup of the 4th District from one with mostly GOP-leaning voters to one that favors Democrats. The change sparked incumbent Rep. Randy Forbes, a Chesapeake Republican, to give up his seat in favor of seeking a new term in the nearby 2nd Congressional District, where Republicans have the advantage.
Forbes’ decision set off a race to replace him – drawing at least three candidate who don’t live in the 4th. Members of Congress must live in the state they represent but are not required to live in their district.
Here’s a rundown of this year’s contest:
Incumbent Rep. Scott Rigell is not running again, so voters will choose a Republican nominee from among three contenders in a primary: Forbes, who has been the 4th District’s congressman since 2001; Virginia Beach attorney Pat Cardwell, a first-time candidate; and two-term state Del. Scott Taylor of Virginia Beach, who is a real estate broker and former Navy SEAL.
The winner will face Democrat Shaun D. Brown in the Nov. 8 general election. Brown is a Newport News businesswoman who said she will move to the 2nd.
Brown, 57, who recently entered the race, said she considers herself a progressive who is “strong on defense” and interested in education, environmental issues and economic development. She previously has run unsuccessfully for the Newport News City Council and the Virginia House of Delegates.
The district includes all of Virginia Beach and Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the northern section of Norfolk and several localities on the Peninsula, including York County, Williamsburg, Poquoson and part of Hampton.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, a Newport News Democrat, will likely face off in November against Republican challenger Martin Williams. Scott was first elected in 1992. Both candidates live in the 3rd.
Williams, a retired Chesapeake police officer and chairman of the city’s Planning Commission, still has to be nominated at the 3rd District Republican Convention on May 7, but he is the sole candidate to file by the party’s deadline, said Jennifer Lee, GOP district chairwoman.
The 3rd includes northern sections of Chesapeake and Suffolk, the southern portion of Norfolk and part of Hampton, as well as all of Portsmouth, Newport News, Franklin and Isle of Wight County.
Voters will participate in either the Democratic or GOP primary .
Squaring off in the Republican primary are Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade, who was first elected sheriff in 1991, and Henrico County resident Jackee K. Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been a coordinator for the conservative Family Foundation and worked on Forbes’ 2012 re-election campaign, according to her website. Neither candidate lives in the 4th District.
Democrats will choose between Chesapeake City Council member Ella Ward, who was first elected in 2006, and state Sen. Don McEachin, who lives in Henrico County in the nearby 7th Congressional District. McEachin promised to move to the 4th should he be elected. Ward, who lives in the 4th, ran unsuccessfully against Forbes two years ago.
The 4th includes parts of Chesapeake and Suffolk and stretches west and north to include Richmond, Petersburg and parts of Chesterfield and Henrico counties.