Four GOP Virginia congressional reps could go down to defeat
Navy veteran and Democrat Elaine Luria is seen as having a chance of winning in Virginia's 2nd CD. | Elaine for Congress via AP

There may be as many as four of Virginia’s Republican-held federal House of Representatives seats in play in this November’s midterm congressional elections. Should the Democrats win even one of these, it would be a contribution to the elimination of the Republican majority in the House, and a blow to President Trump’s far right agenda.  Should the Democrats manage to win all of these seats, it would be a historic political earthquake in Virginia.

Currently the Democrats hold four of the state’s eleven House seats, none of which are seen as being in danger for them.  The loss to the Republicans of four of the seven seats they currently hold would have a huge impact on Congress and also would have major implications for future elections in Virginia, including next year’s election to the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, where the Republicans currently have only one and two-vote majorities, respectively.

In previous articles, I have covered the situations in the Fifth, Seventh and 10th Congressional Districts.  In the 10th, the authoritative Cook Political Report rates Democratic State Senator Jennifer Wexton as very likely ousting incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock.  Cook rates the Seventh District contest between Republican incumbent David Brat and Democrat Abigail Spannberger as a tossup.  In the Fifth District, the Democratic candidate, journalist and author Leslie Cockburn still has an uphill struggle against the brewer of “Strange Monkey Gin,” Denver Riggleman, but the race is certainly entertaining, with Cockburn teasing Riggleman for being, she says, an enthusiast of “bigfoot erotica”.  More seriously the Republicans have leveled bogus charges of anti-Semitism against Cockburn, because years ago, she and her husband Andrew wrote a book criticizing U.S. and Israeli policy as being unjust to the Palestinians.

Cook sees the Second Congressional District as also being a tossup.  This district includes the Virginia part of the Delmarva Peninsula including the city of Virginia Beach, plus, on the opposite side of the Chesapeake Bay, the city of Williamsburg and parts of the cities of Norfolk and Hampton.  The district is about 67 percent white and 20 percent African-American, and is fairly well off.  The Republicans have held this district for the last two terms.  The incumbent Representative, Scott Taylor, is in his first term, having been elected in the 2016 elections.  The district went for Trump by a small margin in the 2016 presidential election, and for the current Democratic governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam in the same year—also by a small margin.

Talyor is opposed in the election by Democratic businesswoman and Navy veteran Elaine Luria.  An independent candidate, Shaun Brown, was also running.   Democrats suspected that the Republican Party had instigated or at least were surreptitiously supporting, Brown’s campaign as a means of drawing votes away from Luria—a well- nown type of electoral chicanery in many parts of the country.  And indeed it was quickly discovered that many of the signatures on Brown’s nominating petitions had been collected by Taylor’s campaign operatives (which is not illegal) and moreover that many of those were fraudulent (which is illegal).  So on Wednesday, Sept. 5, Richmond (Virginia) Circuit Court Judge Gregory Rupe ordered Brown’s name removed from the ballot.  An appeal by Brown appears to have gone nowhere.

How this tawdry escapade will affect the main contest between Taylor and Luria is yet to be seen, but it certainly can’t enhance Taylor’s image among voters.  Generally getting caught committing vote fraud so close to the election is not helpful to a candidate.  As it is clear to just about everybody that voter turnout is the key, and that increasing the turnout of the Democratic Party’s base will be what effects any changes, this is probably not a good harbinger of Taylor’s reelection.

A major issue in the Second District is the impact of global warming and climate change on this coastal area.  Environmentalist groups are touting Luria’s record on this and panning Scott Taylor for having, in his first two years in Congress, voted in favor of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and for doing the bidding of big coal in other votes.  As the Second Congressional District just narrowly missed disaster when Hurricane Florence passed too far to the south of it to do much damage.


Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.