Cantor, Wittman keep House seats
BY KATIE THISDELL
The region’s two Republican congressmen easily held on to their seats Tuesday, despite facing Democratic challengers.
First District Rep. Rob Wittman and 7th District Representative Eric Cantor both reclaimed their seats with 58 percent of the vote, though for Cantor, it was his lowest return since joining Congress in 2000. Both districts have typically leaned heavily to the right.
All of Virginia’s other House incumbents also won re-election Tuesday, leaving Republicans with an 8-3 advantage in the state’s delegation, according to unofficial results. In the most closely watched race, Republican Rep. Scott Rigell turned back Democrat Paul Hirschbiel Jr. in the Hampton Roads 2nd District. In the 1st District, Democrat Adam Cook received 39 percent of the votes, and independent Gail Parker received 2 percent. Since 2007, Wittman has represented the district, which includes much of the Fredericksburg area. He’s a consistent conservative vote, favoring a repeal of the federal health care law and also co-sponsoring the federal “personhood” bill.
He said he hopes now lawmakers can reach an agreement to avert the sequestration cuts–federal budget cuts–before they go into effect in January. He says the government needs “thoughtful policies.”
“I’m hopeful that folks there will find things they have in common and try to get things done,” Wittman said by phone from a celebration party at a restaurant in Tappahannock.
It was a long-shot race for first-time candidate Cook, an attorney and former active-duty military member who is now a major in the Air Force Reserves. He campaigned heavily on veterans issues, accusing Wittman of not doing enough for veterans, who are heavily represented in the district.
CANTOR KEEPS 7TH
Meanwhile, though incumbent Cantor won the 7th District, he did so with his lowest share of votes ever.
This was the first year that Cantor faced a serious challenger in Democrat Wayne Powell, a Richmond attorney and retired Army colonel who garnered nearly 43 percent of the vote. Cantor, the House majority leader and one of the highest-profile Republicans in Congress, said the district’s voters support conservative values.
“The voters of the 7th District embrace our vision of a smaller government, a responsible government, a government that understands it cannot spend money it doesn’t have,” he said during a victory speech early in the evening at the Republican gathering in Richmond. The 2012 election featured Cantor’s first debate in years, and both candidates aired negative ads.
Powell didn’t receive financial support from the national party, while Cantor had at least $1.7 million in his campaign account.
Staff reporter Lindley Estes contributed to this story.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975