HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — A heated battle plays out on the political field in Hampton Roads Tuesday.
The 2nd District congressional race pits a congressman against a member of the State House of Delegates and a long shot attorney.
When Congressman Scott Rigell decided not to seek re-election, he endorsed Congressman Randy Forbes (R) 4th District to run for his seat. Forbes had just been redrawn into a new district so Democratic-leaning it would likely never elect a Republican, so Forbes is now running to replace Rigell — even though he doesn’t live in the district.
The first thing Congressman Forbes says about himself is that he is all things military, and his clout in Washington matters.
“Ask former Secretaries of the Navy whether we would have lost a carrier to Jacksonville, and they will tell you we would have lost it if not for Randy Forbes,” Forbes told 10 On Your Side.
The first thing Delegate Scott Taylor tells you is Forbes doesn’t live in the Second District, can’t even vote for himself. Taylor says voters he’s spoken to don’t like that about Forbes.
“You know who I am, I am a grassroots guy, and all over the district we hear it in person, we hear it when we knock on doors, and we hear it all the time.”
Forbes says he’s been fighting 15 years for Hampton Roads military — just from the 4th District in Chesapeake and not in Virginia Beach.
“We’ve lived here, we have worked here our whole lives. This is our home, and that’s why we love this area and this region,” said Forbes. “This is where the military is.”
Due to his seniority, Forbes is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. He is also in line to become Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
Keeping in mind that 39 percent of Hampton Roads economy is Department of Defense, and 74 percent of that is U.S. Navy, Forbes’ supporters have flocked to him because they believe he is the one with the most seniority to protect Hampton Roads military assets.
“The people who know Taylor best in the House of Delegates, six out of seven of them, say he is not the right guy and they have endorsed me,” said Forbes.
Taylor only has the endorsement of Delegate Chris Stolle.
“When commissaries were going to shut down, the committee that stopped them was my sub-committee… The president was going to take out a Carrier Wing. My subcommittee, because of me, kept that Carrier Wing in there,” Forbes adds.
Taylor calls Forbes ineffective, and says he has failed to sponsor any bills that have passed in Congress except a post office renaming bill.
10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox asked Forbes about reports that list him as one of the most ineffective congressmen in Washington.
“The bill that I write is the National Defense Bill,” Forbes said. “As Chairman of that committee, I write the part that pertains to the Navy, Marine Corp and Air Force. No one’s name is on the bill, but everyone in Congress knows that.”
In commercials, Forbes points out Taylor’s failed businesses, and his $1.5 million in judgments against him.
“I had some business problems in the recession, and I own them. I am who I am, and I own them,” Taylor said.
Taylor says he went through tough times, but he has enough money to lend his campaign $50,000 dollars. When 10 On Your Side asked Taylor about that, he replied:
“I have $50,000 dollars, and I lent it to my campaign,” said Taylor. “It’s my personal stuff.”
Taylor returns to Forbes greatest failing, which he says is on the job:
“Since Randy Forbes has been in Congress, we have gone from 500 ships to 270 ships. Where has he been? He has been AWOL for 16 years.”
10 On Your Side pointed out to Forbes the ships have been lost on his watch.
“But I wasn’t the chairman… If they do blame me, it would be specious. It is the Commander-in-Chief who dictates whether we buy ships or not.”
Taylor does not give Forbes a pass on that.
“You can’t blame the president,” Taylor said. “You are not a witness, you are an active participant, so Randy Forbes has been there. This is his Navy, his military.”
We also asked Forbes if there are voters out there who asked if Scott wins, isn’t he going to just slip into Forbes’ position?
Forbes: “He may 15 years from now, at best.”
10 On Your Side: “Wouldn’t Scott be on the Armed Services Committee?”
Forbes: “He has a 50-50 shot, but it is not a guarantee. We have a lot of people who served in the military who are not on the Armed Services Committee.”
10 On Your Side told Taylor that Forbes says he only has a 50-50 shot to be on the Armed Services Committee.
“That is a lie,” Taylor said. “It’s a lie. Everyone from the district has been on the committee since its inception in this district.”
Also in the race is Pat Cardwell, who calls himself a Franchise Attorney helping entrepreneurs to start their own business. He wants you to know: “I am in it for them. I am going to be very open, honest and accountable in my representation. I am going to hold Town Hall meetings regularly throughout the entire district.”
It should be noted that Cardwell was the first to announce he was running against Congressman Rigell.
“I entered the race when Scott Rigell was still running, and an hour and a half after I filed my papers, he elected not to run again, and then the career politicians came in,” Cardwell said. “They are the guys who saw it as a career move.”
On Taylor, Cardwell had this to say: “He saw a career opportunity, and said he would never run against Scott Rigell… and obviously, Congressman Forbes saw it as an easier path, so they are more concerned about their career paths than the district. I am concerned about the citizens.”
10 On Your Side is covering the Democratic primary in the 4th District, and the Republican primaries in the 2nd and 4th Districts. Stay with 10 On Your Side and WAVY.com for all the results tomorrow night.