VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Three Navy veterans are seeking the Republican nomination in the second congressional district race.
Tuesday is Primary Election Day. The winner will go on to face Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria, who is also a Navy veteran, in November.
The district includes Virginia Beach, part of Norfolk, parts of the Peninsula, Williamsburg, and the Eastern Shore.
Jarome Bell is a first-time candidate who calls himself the "America first" candidate. "I'm not a politician. I'm an outsider. I'm a fighter just like President Trump was when he came in," he told News 3 this week.
Ben Loyola says his experiences in the Navy and as a business owner make him the best candidate. "I just feel my background and education, my military experience, as well as my success in business would be a great fit in our wonderful second congressional district," he said.
Scott Taylor is a former Congressman and Delegate. He represented the district for a term before losing to Luria in 2018. "I happen to feel like our campaign has the best ideas, has the experience, has the ability to get things done - relationships all the way to the White House," said Taylor. "I don't think my opponents have those."
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a virtual campaign and could hurt voter turnout on Tuesday. Many people are expected to vote absentee.
All three candidates said the economy is the most pressing issue facing the district. They're all critical of the handling of the pandemic by Gov. Ralph Northam.
They all say they would've voted for the CARES Act, which provided stimulus checks and other incentives to the economy as the pandemic was setting in back in March. They all said they didn't like every part of the bill, but felt it was necessary to support it during a time of crisis.
Bell is currently suspended from Twitter. He's says he's not exactly sure why, but believes it may have had to do with a posting about immigration - he's in favor of a 10-year moratorium on it.
"I've been totally upset about that, because they censored me and shut down my account two weeks before my election," said Bell.
Loyola was born in Cuba, but is an American citizen. He says he's seen the problems with communism. "I can speak first hand to the dangers of communism, of socialism, and I came here with a love of America and wanted to serve," he said.
Taylor's 2018 campaign faced controversy when his staffers helped get a third-party candidate on the ballot, leading to allegations of forgery and a criminal investigation into the campaign.
"There were mistakes made, decisions that were wrong. I've been very open and honest about that the whole time," said Taylor. "We're running a clean campaign. We're running to win."