NEWPORT NEWS, Va - The 93rd District on the Peninsula is heating up in the lastdays before the election.
Republican Delegate Phil Hamilton has represented the districtcovering parts of Newport News and James City County for 20years.
"What we've been talking about is my experience and myaccomplishments," Hamilton told WAVY.com Friday.
More than a decade has passed since anyone's challenge thatexperience on the ballot, until now.
Attorney Robin Abbott has lived in Newport News for more than 20years. She told WAVY.com, "I wanted people to have a choice. For 13years nobody has run against Phil Hamilton." For the challengerrepresenting the Democratic Party, November 3rd is an opportunityto replace Hamilton.
Hamilton could be seen as vulnerable. As WAVY.com has reported,he's at the center of ongoing federal and House of Delegates ethicsinvestigations. With Hamilton's position on the HouseAppropriations Committee, he secured half a million dollars for ateaching center at Old Dominion University. Hamilton secured a$40,000 a year position with the center. The first publicannouncement about the private ethics panel's work may not comebefore the end of December. However, most candidates for statewideoffice (the only exception Republican Attorney General CandidateKen Cuccinelli) called for Hamilton to resign from office.
The incumbent has not stepped aside. Hamilton said, "I've stoodup, I've acknowledged the situation is there, I'm not blaminganybody. I've apologized. And we moved on."
The Abbott campaign made the investigations the focus of apolitical advertisement. Abbott explained, "We want to make certainthe people of this district are apprised of all circumstancessurrounding this race. It's a major issue." She added that whileknocking on doors, people have told her they're concerned andsaddened by the situation.
But what about the other issues impacting voters in the 93rd?Are the candidates thinking of those issues? Hamilton said when hemeets with voters they discuss jobs, health insurance, and taxes.He said of his opponent, "Her whole campaign has not been aboutpublic policy. It's been attack Phil Hamilton."
WAVY.com asked Abbott about getting the message about herself tovoters. How would they know what she stands for? Abbott replied, "Ithink I have knocked on doors every night since April first. Thepeople of this district have met me over, and over again. And thepeople of this district know who I am."
Abbott called herself a fighter, willing to battle in theGeneral Assembly for consumers' rights and military families. Bothcandidates acknowledged transportation will be on voters' minds asthey head to the polls. Both say it's possible make new starts on aroads package when the legislature reconvenes. They differ on howto pay for transportation solutions.
"I'm not opposed to tolls as long as there is another route totravel so people have the choice. With regard to user fees andtaxes, we need to look at this comprehensively. We need to look atevery option that's available to us," Abbott said. She said whilelawmakers have talked about making roads a priority, little hasbeen done in the last 20 years.
Hamilton said he believes certain options are not viable, butleaders should accomplish the things they agree on. He said, "Ithink there are some possibilities, I've been a supporter of tolls....We've seen a decrease in gas tax revenues because of fuelefficiency improvements. That's not the source we ought to dependon for solving our transportation problems."
Abbott and Hamilton told WAVY.com they'll keep working throughthe weekend to greet as many voters as possible.
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Speaker Bill Howell will be in Chesapeake Monday to address the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.