Retired Navy commander Elaine Luria squeaked ahead to victory in her key congressional race in Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, centered around Virginia Beach.
With 97% of voting precincts accounted for, CBS called Luria the victor after defeating one-term incumbent Rep. Scott Taylor 51%-49% in a race that Taylor won 61%-39% two years ago.
Like Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, Luria is also a military veteran, an important factor in a district that includes several military facilities, including the biggest Naval base on the East Coast.
Luria ran as a moderate, admitting that she had voted for Taylor in 2016. But she slammed him for being a rubber stamp on President Trump who didn’t have a good health care plan in place after voting to repeal Obamacare.
Taylor was likely hurt by the criminal investigation into some of his staffers, who allegedly forged signatures in order to keep a third-party candidate on the ballot and thereby siphon votes from Luria. Taylor said he fired those involved.
Luria needed to do well in Virginia Beach and surrounding suburbs while minimizing losses along the Eastern Shore.
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The district narrowly went for Trump over Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 election, 48%-45%, but supported the Democratic candidate for governor in 2017 over the Republican 51%-47%. The non-partisan Cook Political Report dubbed the race a “tossup,” but Democrats had high hopes for Luria - she received extra funding from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee back in February, and was endorsed by former President Barack Obama in October.
Luria is one of many first-time female Jewish candidates inspired to run for office this year. She told the Forward in September that she was inspired to run by her daughter. “I don’t want her to ask me that question in ten years, ‘What did you do in this trying time?’” she said.
Luria was one of the first women in the Navy to serve her entire career on a ship. She even led a Passover Seder while stationed on a battle carrier in the Middle East. After leaving the military, she opened a business called the Mermaid Factory, where customers can paint mermaid figurines.