Virginia's 2nd congressional district election, 2006

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The Virginia 2nd congressional district election, 2006 was an election for the United States House of Representatives, held on November 7, 2006. Freshman Republican Thelma Drake narrowly defeated her Democratic opponent Phillip Kellam.


Republican incumbent[edit]

Thelma Drake was first elected after entering the 2004 congressional race after the then incumbent Republican congressman, Ed Schrock, made a surprise announcement on August 30, 2004, that he was leaving the race. Drake was selected by the Republican party to replace Schrock on the ballot.

Democratic challenger[edit]

The Democratic challenger was Phillip Kellam. Kellam served as Commissioner of the Revenue for Virginia Beach.


Also running as a write-in, a member of the Independent Greens, was John Kelly, a Retired Army Officer.

The primary[edit]

Neither Drake nor Kellam faced any opposition from within their respective parties for the primary on June 13, 2006. (Only two Congressional districts in all of Virginia had primary votes in 2006.) [1]

The campaign[edit]

In June and July, the campaign saw some controversy over commercials run against Drake by MoveOn. Among other things, MoveOn accused Drake of voting to limit liability of defense contractors who overcharged the US government for services in Iraq. But according to the Daily Press, Drake only voted against sending a bill in question to a committee where, according to MoveOn, it might have been strengthened. The Virginian-Pilot said that the ads "expertly skate around the truth of Drake's record without being outright false."[2]

In response to a threatened lawsuit by Drake, Cox Communications pulled the ads from its cable TV channels, saying that they were unsubstantiated. MoveOn then said that this decision was politically motivated, noting that several Cox executives had given campaign donations to Drake. The three television network affiliates in Hampton Roads, however, said they believed that the ad met the legal standards for broadcast and they had no immediate plan to drop it.[3]

Drake followed this with an ad saying that "Kellam's team" had labeled Northrop Grumman - which employs 19,000 people at its Newport News shipyard - a war profiteer in the ad. Kellam's campaign replied that it had never said anything of the sort, and that it had nothing to do with's ad, which in any case never mentioned Northrop Grumman.[4]

In July, the Washington Post analyzed the race and its strategies:

Kellam (D) is already running television ads that tout him as an "independent voice" for the district, a contrast to Drake (R), whom Kellam paints as walking in lockstep with President Bush. A Kellam poll released recently showed the soundness of that strategy. Just 32 percent of the sample approved of the job Bush was doing, compared with 62 percent who disapproved. Kellam led in the head-to-head question, 45 percent to Drake's 42 percent. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) won this district in 2005 -- a sign that voters in this upper south district are willing to side with a Democrat with the right message.[5]

In a debate on July 22, differences in some of their issues came to the fore. According to one report, "the candidates still agree on most of the major national and international issues of the campaign - the war in Iraq, immigration and social issues such as gay marriage."[6] On the other hand, "Drake and Kellam ... sparred over privatizing Social Security (Drake for, Kellam against); differed over offshore gas and oil drilling (Drake for, Kellam against); and disagreed on federally financed embryonic stem-cell research (Kellam for, Drake against)." Drake also asserted that "[I]mmigration is the No. 1 issue in our nation. It even eclipses the war in Iraq."[7]

Rating the race[edit]

In late June, CQPolitics wrote that the race: "is more competitive than initially expected in the Republican-leaning 2nd. This, in turn, has spurred to change its rating to Leans Republican from Republican Favored."[8]

Similarly, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, in late June, rated the race as leaning Republican, and as one of the top thirty most competitive House races in the nation.[9]

In late July, the Washington Post rated this race as a toss-up.[10]


Source Date Kellam (D) Drake (R)
Zogby November 1, 2006 43% 51%
Majority Watch poll October 31, 2006 50% 45%
RT Strategies October 26, 2006 50% 45%
Mason-Dixon October 10, 2006 44% 46%
RT Strategies October 10, 2006 46% 48%
Zogby October 2, 2006 46% 42%
RT Strategies August 29, 2006 51% 43%


Drake defeated Kellam by a margin of 51.27% to Kellam's 48.46% to retain the seat.

See also[edit]

United States House elections, 2006


External links[edit]