RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two Virginia congressional candidates locked in tight races against moderate Democrats who flipped their districts two years ago will speak during President Donald Trump’s rally Friday in Newport News, the president’s first campaign appearance in the commonwealth this year.
Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), who is vying for Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s House seat in November, and Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL facing Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) for the second time, were offered to speak at the rally, both of the candidates’ campaign managers told 8News on Wednesday.
Taylor represented Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District for one term before being unseated by Luria, a former Navy commander, in the 2018 midterm. Luria received 51.1 percent of the vote as a first-time candidate in a district which includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach. The former congressman is seeking his old seat back after ending his bid to challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) in January.
Freitas and Spanberger will face off for Virginia’s 7th District, which hadn’t been won by a Democrat in a generation before Spanberger took the seat, in one of the most closely watched races of the fall. The state delegate was chosen to run against Spanberger following a Republican convention in July.
What’s yet to be seen is whether Friday’s rally will give either candidate a boost ahead of November. Richard Meagher, a political analyst who teaches political science at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, believes the aim of the rally could be to connect with hardcore Republicans in Virginia.
“It’s really about turning out the base, less about messaging, can you get voters excited and to the polls,” he said.
Meagher told 8News that the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Virginia’s blue wave is still unknown at this time and that many campaigns will be focused on getting their base to the polls. He added that both races are “definitely winnable” for Freitas and Taylor as “first-term incumbents are most vulnerable to challengers.”
The rally, which is expected to start at 9 p.m. at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, comes after the president teased one in a tweet on the day early voting started in Virginia.