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Candidates For Virginia's Second District Pitch Bipartisanship

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Incumbent Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) greets workers showing at work bright and early to the Newport News Shipbuilding plant.
Matt Laslo
Incumbent Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) greets workers showing at work bright and early to the Newport News Shipbuilding plant.

There's only one House contest in Virginia analysts are closely watching this year: Virginia's 2nd Congressional District. It promises to maintain its distinction as one of the most volatile swing districts in the country.

Most workers filing through the gates at the Newport News Shipbuilding plant don't have politics on their minds. That doesn't stop incumbent Republican Scott Rigell from pressing the flesh. He has mostly supporters here offering him encouragement.

But one gentleman, who hurries inside without offering his name, has a request for the first-term congressman: "Let me ask you to do this for us, you and your congressman, fellow friends: work together. That's the problem with our country."

The last two incumbents from the 2nd District were ousted in wave elections, and Rigell knows he's in a close contest. He assures the man he's not beholden to Republican party leaders.

"I push back on my own party when we're wrong," says Rigell. "I'm with you on that. I got into this for the same reason you just mentioned; I share that."

Rigell can be considered a moderate in this hyper-partisan Congress. He's started the Fix Congress Now Caucus with a couple Democrats, but the group has no accomplishments — merely a proposal to cut off lawmakers pay if they fail to pass a budget.

Rigell's opponent, Democratic businessman Paul Hirschbiel, gladly points to the Washington Post, which calculates Rigell has voted with his party 92 percent of the time.

"It's not about what you say, it's about what you do, and that's what, I think, people are looking for," says Hirschbiel. "They're looking for people that just don't talk, but they actually walk the walk; they get up there and they do something."

With the presidential and Senate contests dwarfing the 2nd District race, there's a chance the district will just go the way the rest of the state does. That s not stopping these men from courting voters with a message of bipartisanship that hasn't been witnessed on Capitol Hill in years.

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