Hampton Roads has one of the most competitive Congressional races in the country. Here’s what to know before going to the polls.
- Written by Mechelle Hankerson | email@example.com | 757-889-9466
- Category: Local News
- Published: 21 October 2022
Midterm congressional elections help politicos gauge satisfaction with a president and help make predictions about the outcomes of the next presidential election.
This year, some Hampton Roads voters are voting in the most competitive congressional house race in the country (the 2nd District where Rep. Elaine Luria and Virginia state Sen. Jen Kiggans are facing off in a multi-million-dollar competition).
But there are also big local changes, like new districts in Virginia Beach. That means picking city council members for every seat and newly competitive school board races (like Chesapeake’s 13-person race for five school board seats).
Here’s what voters need to know:
Voting has already started. It’s too late to register to vote in this election, but you have until Nov. 5. to vote early in person. Depending on which location you go to, polls will close for early voting at 4 or 5 p.m. Nov.5.
Early voters can go to the local registrar’s office or one of these designated locations in the locality they are registered to vote in. You do not need to fill out any special forms to cast an early ballot in person.
You also have the option to vote absentee by mail, which the state considers another form of early voting.
You must apply for an absentee ballot, either online or at your registrar’s office. The deadline to ask for one is 5 p.m on Oct. 28.
Absentee ballots can be returned by mail, directly to the registrar’s office, at designated ballot drop boxes in your locality or to any polling location on Election Day.
If you’re going to vote in-person on Election Day, double check your polling place and registration through the state. It may have changed due to regular redistricting and court-ordered changes in Virginia Beach.
Election Day is Nov. 8 this year. Polls open at 6 a.m. and voters can get in line until 7 p.m. As long as you're in line by 7, you will be able to vote regardless of how long it takes to get through the line.
Make sure to bring an acceptable form of ID. The most common forms are DMV-issued identifications, like a license or ID card for non-drivers. Military IDs, photo school IDs issued by Virginia schools or a voter ID card issued by the Department of Elections are also acceptable.
If you forget your ID or bring a form that isn’t accepted, you will still be able to cast a provisional ballot. You’ll have until the next day at noon to bring a valid ID to the registrar to ensure your ballot is counted.
Finally, know what’s on your ballot. Local elections – city councils and school boards – often have lots of candidates.
You can pull up a sample ballot through the Department of Elections to see what local candidates you have to choose from.
Once you research your local choices, read up on congressional races below:
The newly redrawn 1st District includes Poquoson, Williamsburg, James City and York counties as well as the Middle Peninsula. It also includes all of the counties encircling Richmond, such as Henrico and Chesterfield.
Previously the district stretched past Fredericksburg to the outskirts of D.C., and did not include much of Hampton Roads or the Richmond area.
Rob Wittman (R, incumbent)
Occupation: Former Virginia and local government employee, most recently as field director for Va. Department of Health shellfish sanitation division
Political resume: 1st District Representative (seven terms); Virginia delegate (one term); Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors (12 years); Montross Town Council (10 years, 4 as mayor)
Total of $1.8 million raised as of Oct. 18. Top donors include Stephen Ballard, owner of Virginia Beach’s S.B. Ballard Construction Company, and J-Wrap Management, a Georgia-based private equity firm.
Expanding energy independence, including investing in nuclear power and offshore wind as well as oil and gas pipelines
Improving fiscal responsibility in Congress, including preventing lawmakers from getting paid until passing a budget, and keeping them in town until appropriation bills are passed
Combating illegal immigration by reinstating cooperative asylum agreements with Northern Triangle countries and using the “Remain in Mexico” program where people must wait in that country while pursuing asylum
Voting record: 98% party loyalty, according to an analysis by UCLA’s Department of Political Science
Notable recent legislation: BRAVE Act, which would require Veterans Affairs to establish a patient outreach system ensuring veterans who have experienced a traumatic event can get mental health information and resources; HR 5147, which would prohibit the Department of Defense from procuring certain items like personal protective equipment from North Korea, China, Russia or Iran; Just in Case Act, which would allow DoD to reimburse contractors if they’re unable to work on-site during a disaster. None of those have passed the House.
Herb Jones (D)
- Occupation: Retired; Former Army colonel and New Kent County treasurer
- Political resume: New Kent County treasurer (3 terms)
- Total of $263,042 raised as of Oct. 18. Largest campaign donors include Sonjia Smith (Charlottesville-based head of Clean Virginia Fund and Commonwealth Forward PACs); a Gloucester doctor and a Nellysford property company owner
- 3 issues:
- Protecting and preserving the natural environment, including getting more funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration and expanding renewable energy
- Criminal justice reform, including legalizing marijuana at the federal level, ending the war on drugs that disproportionately incarcerates people of color and better training police officers
- Supporting public education, including raising teacher salaries to offset the teacher shortage
- Voting record: N/A
- Notable legislation: N/A
The new 2nd District includes all of Virginia Beach, the Eastern Shore, Suffolk, Isle of Wight and Southampton County, as well as most of Chesapeake.
The district previously included parts of Norfolk and much of the Peninsula, from Hampton to Williamsburg.
Elaine Luria (D, incumbent)
- Occupation: Retired Naval commander
- Political resume: Elected to Congress in 2018, now seeking her third term. Luria was chosen to serve on the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capital.
- Total of $8.7 million as of Oct. 18. Top donors include Service First Women’s Victory Fund, a political action committee (PAC) backing five female Democrats with military backgrounds; American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a PAC advocating for strong U.S.-Israel relations; Hold the House Victory Fund, a PAC connected to the Democratic National Committee.
- 3 issues: Veterans issues, including expanding access to healthcare and help with employment; Improving affordable healthcare access, lowering prescription drug prices and ensuring insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions; and improving the economy by enhancing defense spending, raising minimum wages and supporting career and technical education programs.
- Voting record: Luria voted with her party about 88% of the time in 2020, according to CQ Roll Call’s party unity studies. That put her among about a dozen Democrats least likely to vote with her party at the time. Since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, however, political forecasting website FiveThirtyEight shows Luria has voted in line with him 99% of the time.
- Notable recent legislation: Passed a bill increasing pay and benefits for military veterans and a similar cost-of-living adjustment for veterans in 2019 and 2020; Amended the federal budget to increase defense spending by $37 billion this year, including the establishment of a commission on the future of the Navy; Unsuccessfully championed bills on teacher loan forgiveness and expanded insurance coverage for adult children of military families.
Jen Kiggans (R)
- Occupation: Retired Naval helicopter pilot, now geriatric nurse practitioner
Political resume: Elected to Virginia State Senate representing 7th Senate District (Virginia Beach and Norfolk) in 2020
Main campaign funders: Total of $2.7 million as of Oct. 18. Top donors include the Republican Party of Virginia, Virginia Senate Republicans Caucus and the Republican State Leadership Committee.
3 issues: Address inflation and the cost of living by reducing government spending; Improve the economy by cutting corporate taxes, reducing individual income tax and reducing government regulation; Addressing “the crisis at our border.” Kiggans said there’s a “public health, security, and humanitarian crisis” at the southern border.
Voting record: Over three sessions as a member of the Virginia State Senate, Kiggans voted with her party roughly 88% of the time. according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project.
Notable recent legislation: Successfully passed state legislation waiving permit fees on veteran-owned small businesses; Introduced unsuccessful legislation meant to bar transgender girls from participating in female sports at Virginia public schools; Also unsuccessfully introduced legislation to prevent the teaching of “divisive concepts” or “Critical Race Theory” - language used often by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and his cabinet.
The newly redrawn district includes Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth and part of Chesapeake.
Previously, the district stretched across the James River and included Carrollton, Smithfield, parts of Suffolk and Franklin.
Bobby Scott (D, incumbent)
Occupation: Retired attorney
Political resume: Virginia state delegate 1978-1983; Virginia state senator 1983-1993; 3rd District congressman since 1993. Currently serves as Chairman of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee.
Total of $763,171 raised as of Oct. 18. Top contributors include: The National Education Association Fund For Children And Public Education, International Union Of Bricklayers And Allied Craftworkers PAC, International Association Of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail And Transportation Workers Political Action League.
- 3 issues: Medicare for All and adding a “Medicare-styled public option to Obamacare,” which he said will decrease the cost of private insurance; Reducing the cost of college by mandating an increase in federal and state funding, raising the maximum payout of Pell Grants and making two years of community college free; Supports laws to strengthen protections for union organizing and laws that protect women and older workers from discrimination as well as raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
- Voting record: Votes with his party 99% of the time, according to a UCLA analysis.
- Notable recent legislation: Introduced legislation that would expand access to free school meals; Sponsored Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021, which expands employees’ ability to organize into unions, which has passed House of Representatives; Sponsored several bills to invest federal funding for renovating and constructing public schools. None have become law.
Terry Namkung (R)
Occupation: Retired Air Force veteran. Worked as a defense contractor and for an energy company in Yorktown focused on finding renewable energy sources and reducing the carbon footprint of public buildings.
Political resume: N/A
- Total of $155,770 raised as of Oct. 18. More than half of campaign funds, approximately $58,000, are from the candidate himself. Other top contributers include the Uresti Group, a Texas-based heating and air conditioning company and members of the Uresti family.
- 3 issues: Supports lower taxes and “an efficient regulatory environment,” which he said will spur economic growth and increase wealth; Believes schools must refocus on teaching reading, math and science and spend less time “teaching anti-conservative agendas.” He supports school choice programs, which he claimed will incentivize schools to better their academic performance; Creating an energy policy that increases wind and solar energy while continuring investments in nuclear power, natural gas and “robust domestic oil production.”
- Voting record: N/A
- Notable recent legislation: N/A
This district includes Emporia, Sussex County, Surry County part of Southampton County and areas south of Richmond, including some of the city itself.
The old district didn’t include Richmond and stretched southeast into Chesapeake.
Donald McEachin (D, incumbent)
Occupation: retired attorney
Political resume: Virginia state delegate 1996-2002 and again 2006-2008; state senator 2008-2017; Represented the Fourth congressional district since 2017.
Total of $826,244 raised as of Oct. 18. Top donors include Pipefitters union, Dominion Energy and Common Ground Political Action Committee, a Williamsburg-based PAC chaired by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.
- 3 issues: Universal pre-kindergarten and other investments in public education; LGBTQIA rights and addressing racial inequities through police and criminal justice system reform; Affordable health care by strengthening and protecting the Affordable Care Act.
- Voting record: McEachin votes with the Democratic party 99% of the time, according to an analysis by UCLA’s Department of Political Science
- Notable recent legislation: Introduced legislation to require all public housing to do risk assessments of lead exposure if children under a certain age are living there; Create a rebate program through the Federal Communications Commission to provide $400 toward a connective electronic device (like a laptop or tablet) to low-income people; A sweeping bill to tighten gun restrictions, especially in regards to gun storage and removes some protections for gun manufacturers in legal settings. None of those have passed the House.
McEachin regularly introduced resolutions honoring people in his district or renaming federal properties, like post offices, after significant people in the community.
Leon Benjamin (R)
- Occupation: Pastor at New Life Harvest Church in Richmond
- Political resume: No political experience; ran and lost for a Richmond City Council seat in 2016
- Main campaign funders: Total of $276,422 raised as of Oct. 18. Benjamin’s top funders are individuals: One from Utah, one from Texas, one from Florida and one from Virginia.
- 3 issues: Crime prevention by funding law enforcement and creating affordable and accessible children’s programs; Curb inflation and increasing gas prices by restarting previously stalled domestic pipeline projects; Support school choice through homeschooling, charter and private education options.
- Voting record: N/A
- Notable legislation: N/A