VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A U.S. Navy combat veteran has announced his intent to challenge Elaine Luria for the 2nd Congressional District seat next year.
Ben Loyola announced in a news release Monday he will run for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.
The seat is currently occupied by Democrat Elaine Luria.
Loyola currently lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two daughters, but he was born in Havana, Cuba. He was only 2 years old when his family fled to America.
He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 and then went to flight school to become a bombardier navigator for the A-6E Intruder attack aircraft.
Loyola was involved in the Gulf of Sidra Libyan combat operations and was awarded the Air Medal with Combat Valor for his actions, he said in the release.
Loyola also founded Loyola Enterprises Inc. in Virginia Beach, which provides simulation, cyber security, information technology and knowledge management for training, analysis and operations of warfighters.
“There is no doubt I have lived the American dream; from escaping Communist Cuba, graduating from the US Naval Academy, flying combat missions while serving under President Reagan, creating a successful business, and by having a beautiful family,” Loyola said in the release. “You can only do that in America and it’s because of our limited government principles and our entrepreneurial spirit.”
Loyola has previously been on several community organizations, including the Commonwealth of Virginia Public School Authority, City of Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission, and Virginia Ballet.
He also previously ran for the District 6 Virginia Senate seat in 2011, but was defeated by then-incumbent Ralph Northam, who is now governor.
“He is dedicated to bringing common-sense conservative representation, a sense of service, business experience and limited government back to Washington, DC.,” the release added.
Luria, a Democrat, was elected in 2018, beating out Republican incumbent Scott Taylor. She is also a Navy veteran and small business owner.