Editorial: Local voters assembled a House delegation to fight for area’s interests

From the moment she decided to seek reelection in a newly drawn and relatively unfriendly 2nd Congressional District, two-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria faced an uphill battle. State Sen. Jen Kiggans, a disciplined opponent, never waivered or wobbled on the campaign trail and, come January, will represent that part of southeastern Virginia in the U.S. House.

It was a rarity however as Luria was one of the few Democratic members ousted by voters on Tuesday. The Republican rout, widely predicted, never materialized, though the GOP could still capture slim majorities in both chambers of Congress.

What that means for policymaking is unclear as officials continue to count votes. But Hampton Roads can hope that its delegation will work together on issues vital to the region, even though they will head to Washington with starkly different visions for the nation’s future.

Though Tuesday saw four House races of interest to Hampton Roads, three were considered decided long before the polls closed.

In the 1st District, voters shrugged off Republican Rep. Rob Wittman’s vote against certifying the 2020 presidential election only hours after a violent mob ransacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and returned him to office for his ninth term.

During his nearly 16 years in Washington, Wittman has been a forceful advocate for the region’s military installations and defense contractors, with a particular emphasis on shipbuilding and seapower. That’s a valuable voice to have on behalf of Hampton Roads, even though his complicity in the events of Jan. 6 were an embarrassment.

In the 3rd District, Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott easily dispatched his GOP challenger to secure his 16th term in office. When elected in 1992, he was Virginia’s first Black congressman since Reconstruction.

Since 2019, he has served as chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, working to improve conditions for workers and to strengthen public schools, though he will relinquish the gavel should Republicans secure a majority in the House.

The good news for Hampton Roads is that Scott has seen it all before and has been an effective lawmaker in the majority and in the minority. His work on behalf of the military, civil rights and climate change are invaluable to the region.

In the 4th District, Democratic Rep, Don McEachin secured his fourth term in the House, where he has been a champion for climate change legislation and has proposed labeling its effects a public health emergency. He too will have to adapt to working in the minority if Republicans take back the House and legislative efforts to address the climate crisis will be a tougher sell.

And then there’s the 2nd District, one of three House races in Virginia considered by pundits to be a measuring stick for Republican success on Tuesday night. Redrawn to be more favorable to the GOP, it made for a challenge that Luria could not overcome.

In Kiggans, Hampton Roads will have a Navy veteran and nurse practitioner who will bring that experience to bear on behalf of the region. As Luria did, expect her to be a relentless voice on behalf of the military and to fight for Hampton Roads’ sizable active duty and veteran population.

There is a concern, of course. Kiggans cast her lot in with the election deniers pushing former President Donald Trump’s big lie about the 2020 election. She was one of only four state senators who voted to spend $70 million in taxpayer funds on an absurd “forensic audit” of Virginia’s results.

Kiggans, once in office, must be an uncompromising defender of democracy now that she will represent some of the nation’s most important military installations and the brave warriors who serve there.

Area residents should also expect that all four members would stand against budgeting brinksmanship that could lead to another government shutdown. Hampton Roads has experienced such harm before and cannot do so again.

To represent this region is an honor these four have earned. May they excel in their service.