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Rigell Retirement Shifts Seat Out of Safe for GOP

Rigell's retirement will likely cause Democrats to take a look at the seat he is vacating. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Scott Rigell is retiring from Virginia’s 2nd District, leaving a competitive open seat for his party to defend. The news, first reported by the Virginian-Pilot, was a surprise to some people who have worked closely with the congressman in the past. The Virginia Beach-based district is competitive. President Barack Obama won it 50 percent to 49 percent in 2012 and 51 percent to 48 percent in 2008 and Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly won the 2nd, 47 percent to 46 percent, in the 2013 gubernatorial election against conservative Republican Ken Cuccinelli, under the current lines. But a court-ordered map would improve the GOP performance of the seat by a couple of points.

Rigell was a talented candidate with strong ties to the business community through his car dealerships and connection to the African-American community through black pastors and churches. The population of the 2nd District is about 22 percent black and 7 percent Hispanic.  

Potential Republican successors include former state Sen. Jeff McWaters, state Sen. Frank Wagner, and state Dels. Scott Taylor and Chris Stolle. Newly elected state Del. Jason Miyares is also mentioned. He’s a former prosecutor and former top campaign aide to Rigell.  

After two strong re-election victories, there wasn’t much of a Democratic appetite to take on Rigell this year. But the open seat will spark new interest in the seat.  

The 2nd will now host a competitive congressional race as well as be a swing area in a presidential swing state.The congressional race is obviously just beginning, but it is no longer Safe as an open seat. We’re changing our Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating to Lean Republican as the dust settles.

Contact Gonzales at  nathangonzales@rollcall.com  and follow him on Twitter at @nathanlgonzales .

 Related:

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Topics: house virginia poli