A major redrawing of congressional districts is prompting U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, a pro-military Republican, to switch his district from the 4th to the 2nd because he fears new voters might not re-elect him.
That begs a question: Who might run to take his place in the new 4th District?
The one name that comes up is that of state Sen. A. Donald McEachin, says Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.
“It’s still a little early to say who might be in contention,” Farnsworth says. “We’ll have to wait until the General Assembly session is over. But now that Forbes has made his announcement, more names are likely to come out.”
Forbes and McEachin, a Democrat, are very different. Conservative Forbes prides himself on his anti-abortion, pro-gun and religious liberty stands.
Most of all, he says he’s in line to become chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He already serves on that committee and oversees programs involving the Navy Marine Corps and some in the Air Force. The Hampton Roads area that is partly in Forbes’ district is chock-a-block with military installations and support facilities.
McEachin is a black lawyer from the Richmond area who takes more liberal positions. And race is very much involved with the redistricting. Federal justices have ruled that blacks were unfairly packed into the 3rd District, which used to cover parts of Richmond and Henrico County to make adjacent districts easier for white candidates.
The new plan changes Forbes’ 4th District from being 33 percent black to 43 percent black, making things tougher for Forbes as he seeks reelection later this year.
Now Forbes, who lives in Chesapeake in the 4th District, will run in the 2nd District which is centered in Virginia Beach. He maintains an office there.
The U.S. Supreme Court must approve the redistricting decision, which Republican members of Congress are challenging. Farnsworth says that it's unlikely that the high court will interfere.