Considered a toss-up race, the Virginia contest between Rep. Glenn Nye and Republican Scott Rigell is causing a good deal of concern for backers of Nye, a freshman Democrat. While he’s voted in line with the conservative 2nd Congressional District, recent events involving the Department of Defense cuts could directly impact his re-election chances in a bad way.
Candidates for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district, which sits on the eastern seaboard, includes Accomack and Northampton counties, Virginia Beach and parts of Norfolk and Hampton. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Glenn Nye
Political experience: Nye is the current representative for Virginia’s 2nd District after beating Thelma Drake in 2008. He is the Chairman of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology.
Professional experience: A former foreign service officer, Nye helped secure the rescue of 26 Americans and release of one hostage during a crisis in Macedonia. He has been posted in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, and he served as a USAID Operations Director in the West Bank and Gaza.
Key issues: According to the “Issues” section of his website, Nye’s platform covers largely conservative issues, such as reducing spending, increasing tax cuts and military issues. He also discusses Wall Street reform, noting that he voted against the bailout and that he supported the recent bill to create new rules making Wall Street more accountable.
Endorsements: None is listed on his website, though Sen. Mark Warner has recently campaigned for Nye.
Chances of maintaining his seat: In a year that doesn’t favor the Democrat, Nye helps himself by tacking toward the center of his district, as evidenced by the tagline on this website: “An Independent Voice for Hampton Roads.” By voting against the health care and energy bills, Nye has acknowledged the conservative lean to his district, but may have also put off his own base somewhat. He failed to gain the Virginia AFL-CIO endorsement, in part for also voting against unemployment benefit expansion.
Candidate: Scott Rigell
Political experience: Former Gov. George Allen appointed him to the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board.
Professional experience: He is the founder and Chairman of Freedom Automotive in Virginia Beach and former president of the Hampton Roads Automobile Dealers Association.
Key issues: Some key issues Rigell notes on his website include job creation, cutting spending, health care reform and energy independence. On this last issue, he’d like to see drilling “50 miles off Virginia’s coast” and reduced energy trade with Latin American and Middle Eastern countries that are “not our allies or strategic partners.”
His platform also emphasizes his commitment to gun-owner rights and to listening to citizens’ “concerns, ideas, and issues.”
Endorsements: Rigell has been endorsed by former Gov. George Allen and current Gov. Bob McDonnnell, representatives Eric Cantor and Mike Pence.
Chances of unseating Glenn Nye: The recent announcement of the closure of the U. S. Joint Forces Command is a major blow to the district’s employment base, and that has made Nye vulnerable to charges he can’t fight to keep jobs. Rigell has already made some political hay with that accusation.
Key Differences between Scott Rigell and Glenn Nye
Military and veterans: Nye wants to see the new GI Bill come to fuller fruition and pay raises for troops. His support for veterans includes a desire to see Veterans Affairs backlogs cleared up, preventing privatization of veteran’s health care and extending tax credits to businesses that hire veterans. Rigell emphasizes that increased defense spending is necessary to make the equipment and pay needed for troops a possibility. He also emphasizes that veterans should receive full and unwavering support for health care, wages, education and housing.
Spending: Rigell finds that Congressional spending is wasteful; too many agencies are doing the same tasks and creating a huge deficit. He opposes the stimulus spending and bank bailout bills. Nye is also against overspending, arguing that a congressional pay freeze should be implemented, along with balanced-budget legislation and an effort to fight fraud by contractors.
Virginia’s 2nd U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Virginia 2nd District includes the entire Virginia section of the Delmarva Peninsula and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, bordering both North Carolina and Maryland. Accomack and Northampton counties are within the district, as is the city of Virginia Beach and portions of Norfolk and Hampton.
2008 results: Nye beat Thelma Drake 52 percent to 47 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 68.4 percent of the district is white, 22.3 percent black, 5.9 percent Hispanic, 4.5 percent Asian, and 0.3 percent American Indian or Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Virginia 2nd District a rating of R+5, giving a preference to Republican candidates among voters.