Forbes to run in 2nd District

Published 10:00 pm Monday, February 8, 2016

Congressman J. Randy Forbes, who has represented Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Suffolk, since 2001, announced Monday he’s switching districts and will run in the 2nd District this year.

In a live video on his Facebook page at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Forbes focused on national defense. He is chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

“By holding this pen, I become the most instrumental person in the House of Representatives to help write the language that goes into that section of the bill that then goes into the defense bill,” Forbes said, holding a pen he pulled from his jacket during the speech. He questioned “whether or not we want to take that pen out of the hand of a Virginian and give it to somebody in Florida or Texas or California.”

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Earlier this year, a three-judge panel from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, ordered that a handful of Virginia’s Congressional Districts be redrawn, which radically shifted the demographics of Forbes’ district. Since that time, there has been much speculation about whether he would make the switch.

Congressional representatives do not have to live in the districts they are representing.

Forbes said in the video that Americans are looking for a leader.

“They literally feel the country is slipping through their fingers, and they don’t know what they can do about it,” he said. “They see an administration that day after day just fails to step up to the plate. They want a leader who will stand up.

“I’ve been so honored that so many people across the 2nd Congressional District believe I’m that leader.”

Congressman Scott Rigell, the Republican who currently represents the 2nd District but already had announced he would not run this year, gave Forbes an enthusiastic recommendation in the Facebook video.

“He’s respected on both sides of the aisle, and he gets things done in Washington,” Rigell said. “I truly believe he’s one of the 10 most influential people in Washington on the direction that our Navy and our Marine Corps go.”

Two other Republicans, Delegate Scott Taylor and attorney Pat Cardwell, also are seeking the nomination.

The judges’ decision to redraw congressional districts stemmed from a lawsuit filed by two residents of the Third Congressional District, currently represented by Democrat Bobby Scott.

The panel from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, twice found the Third District unconstitutional and ordered the Virginia General Assembly to implement a new district plan by Sept. 1. The General Assembly failed to do so.

The court then appointed Dr. Bernard Grofman, an economics and political science professor at the University of California Irvine, to assist in drawing a new plan.

His plan selected by the court alters the 2nd, 3rd and 4th districts.

In Suffolk, the 4th District would lose portions of Suffolk’s downtown area and everything north of the bypass and U.S. Route 460. The demographics of the 4th District would change radically. Eleven percent of its electorate would shift from white to black, though it would still be more white: 51 percent to 43 percent.

The 3rd District will become more white under the new plan — from 34 percent to 45 percent — but is still slightly majority black with 48 percent black voters.

The 2nd District would also change slightly, losing portions of the Peninsula. Two percent of its electorate would shift from black to white.