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Democrats’ Missed Opportunity in Virginia

Competitive 2nd District moves to Safe GOP after Democrats fail to get a candidate

Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., is retiring from the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., is retiring from the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats are desperately searching for opportunities to expand the House playing field in order to take advantage of a potential wave caused by Donald Trump or Ted Cruz at the top of the ballot. But their recruitment efforts fell short in a potentially competitive district in Virginia.  

Also see: Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call Race Ratings map For the last few cycles, Democrats targeted GOP Rep. Scott Rigell in the 2nd District, which includes Virginia Beach and part of Newport News, but the congressman proved to be a formidable incumbent since his initial election in 2010.  

Rigell’s mid-January retirement announcement appeared to give the Democrats new life, particularly since Republicans only narrowly carried the district with 51 percent in the last two presidential elections, and the region is a swing area of a presidential swing state.  

But the March 31 filing deadline passed without Democrats nominating a candidate.  

Therefore, we’re changing the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating from Lean Republican to Safe for Republicans .  

Even though GOP Rep. J. Randy Forbes subsequently decided to run for re-election in the 2nd District rather than his 4th District (which was redrawn to be prohibitively Democratic), the seat still appeared to be a Democratic takeover opportunity.  

Democratic strategists had been remarkably quiet about the race in recent weeks and talked about the thin bench of potential recruits. But not getting a candidate at all in the race is still jarring.  

Now the only race that matters in the 2nd District is the June 14 Republican primary, when Forbes will face off against state Del. Scott Taylor and attorney Pat Cardwell. Democratic state Sen. Donald McEachin is likely to be the next congressman from Forbes’s redrawn 4th District.  

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