VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) — Two candidates in Virginia’s hotly-contested 2nd Congressional District race faced off Thursday afternoon in their second and final debate before Election Day.
The race is a rematch, after Democrat Elaine Luria unseated Republican Scott Taylor just two years ago.
The two participated in their first debate earlier this week, with Thursday’s hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Marriott.
A recent poll from Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy shows Luria is up by 7 points over Taylor. She’s leading big among women, Black and independent voters. The poll’s responses show Taylor is burdened by his 2018 campaign’s election fraud scandal.
The same poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden is up by 9 points on President Donald Trump. President Trump, who endorsed Taylor earlier this year, won the district by just 3% in 2016.
Luria and Taylor aren’t the only candidates running. David Foster will be on the ballot as an independent. However, he was not part of Thursday’s debate.
It didn’t take long for Taylor to show he would be the aggressor in the 90-minute debate. He tackled Luria for her constituent service.
“You have the worst constituent service in Virginia possibly the country,” Taylor claimed in front of the chamber crowd.
Luria countered: “I want to say I am very proud of my team, my staff… And we have a great constituent service team. We passed $4.2 million for individuals in our community that we were able to recoup advocating on their behalf with federal agencies.”
Right to Work
Taylor also hit Luria on right to work, saying it is the “crown jewel of our business.”
Luria supports repealing Virginia’s Right to Work Law.
“Unions have done a lot with helping workplace safety, and they are valuable to our workforce. We have a five-day workweek, a 40-hour workweek because of unions,” she said.
Taylor claimed removing right to work would potentially make people pay unions money for condition of employment, and that money would then back Luria’s campaign.
Taylor also said he opposed the $15 minimum wage proposal, and Luria supports it. Both agree the market keeps the wages above the current minimum wage of $7.25.
Taylor drew contrast, saying that he brought more back more to the district serving on the House Appropriations Money Committee than she does serving in Armed Services Committee.
“I brought in over $290 million to Hampton Roads, $18 million for Norfolk Naval Station, and $23 million for Little Creek.”
Taylor is also playing the money card, saying that Luria has a lot of it and he does not, criticizing her investing in Chinese companies.
“I don’t know how a U.S. congressperson would invest in a Chinese manufacturer because … you are betting with China and not the United States.”
Luria dismissed the claim and hammered Taylor on his past financial issues.
“You want to talk about my finances, those were good investments, but if you want to talk about your own bankruptcy, not paying your property tax on time, we can do that,” she said.
Luria also pointed out on this issue: Her investments are in stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange and in Americans’ 401k plans.
Other congressional matters
Taylor went after Luria on COVID-19 relief. She shot back saying she’s brought plenty back to Hampton Roads.
“I have been very proud to vote for four COVID-19 relief packages, the CARES Act, the Payroll Protection Program that many businesses benefit from.”
Taylor reminded that he voted against his party on some immigration issues like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that allows some individuals with unlawful presence in the United States after being brought to the country as children.
“They were brought here when they were younger, and we have invested in them. They went through our schools; they are just as American as you and me,” Taylor said.
Luria, however, said his entire voting record doesn’t show full support for dreamers.
“Well he voted against HR 6 that would have provided protection for dreamers, but in June 2018 he voted against that.”
Taylor kept claiming Luria voted with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 92 percent of the time, but he’s voted with Pelosi too. Luria was prepared with her own statistics.
“Scott Taylor actually voted with speaker Pelosi 310 times while he was in congress.”
You could hear Taylor say, “Nice play.”
Luria continued: “I voted with speaker Pelosi 72 times.”
Taylor quipped: “I didn’t vote with Nancy Pelosi, she voted with us.”
On health care, Luria hit Taylor and Republicans for criticizing Obamacare without a replacement. Taylor said,
“There is no way we would support taking away pre-existing conditions. I co-sponsored a bill that would guarantee pre-existing conditions coverage,” Taylor responded.
Luria then reminded that Taylor: “voted against an amendment to prevent insurance companies for charging women more for their insurance.”
But in the end, which seemed to surprise Taylor and the audience, Luria was confident enough in a grueling re-election process to praise Taylor.
“I would like to thank Mr. Taylor for the work he did for Sentara doctors and nurses and patients. I appreciate the PPE that was he was able to bring in at a critical time.”
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