Seven-term lawmaker comes up short in reconfigured district
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
VIRGINIA BEACH (CFP) — U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes has become the second Republican House member to fall in a primary in 2016, after his gambit of switching districts to try to preserve his seat fell short.
In Virginia’s newly configured 2nd District, State Delegate Scott Taylor took 52 percent in the June 14 vote to 41 percent for Forbes, after a campaign that saw the veteran congressman outspend his challenger by 10-to-1.
Taylor, 36, a former Navy SEAL elected to the legislature in 2013, will now go on to face the Democratic nominee, Virginia Beach businesswoman Shaun Brown, in November. The district, centered in Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads, leans Republican.
Forbes’s demise was triggered by a federal court ruling earlier this year that racial considerations were improperly used in drawing the Old Dominion’s 3rd District. A redraw of the House map affected surrounding districts in both metro Richmond and Hampton Roads, including in the 4th District, the seat Forbes currently holds.
The court’s decision to add the cities of Richmond and Petersburg to the 4th District made it substantially more Democratic, prompting Forbes to run in the 2nd District, where GOP Rep. Scot Rigell was retiring.
But Forbes’s decision to parachute into a district where he did not live in order to save his congressional career did not go over well with some of his new constituents. Taylor, who had already been campaigning for the seat when Forbes entered the race, dismissed him as a carpetbagger.
Forbes had argued that his status as a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee would be an important asset for a district with major military installations. But that argument couldn’t save him.
In a statement after his defeat, Forbes said, “To each who have stood by us and partnered with us, I am blessed by your friendship and encouragement.
“We have had a vision for this region, for rebuilding our military, and for defending religious liberty, and while perhaps not embraced by voters tonight, we hope nonetheless (it) will be the path forward for our nation and our region.”
The other GOP House incumbent to lose a primary this year was U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in North Carolina.
In other House primaries in Virginia:
- In the 4th District, Republican Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade will face off against Democratic State Senator Donald McEachin, also of Henrico County. A win by McEachin in the redrawn district would add a second African-American congressman to the state’s delegation.
- In the 5th District, GOP State Senator Tom Garrett from Buckingham County will face Democrat Jane Dittmar, the former chair of the Albermarle County Board of Supervisors. The seat was opened up by the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt.