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Stay or go? New Congressional maps present residency issue for Representatives

Approved Congressional Map
Supreme Court of Virginia
A map of new Congressional districts

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger will be running for reelection in the 7th Congressional District, even though she now lives in what will be the 1st. And Congressman Morgan Griffith will be running for reelection to the 9th Congressional District, even though he now lives in what will be the 6th.

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says the new maps are putting several incumbent members at risk by seeking reelection to districts they no longer call home. "The fact that you are an out-of-district resident will be weaponized at every opportunity by your opponents, be they in a primary or in a general election. It is much more effective if you want to stay in Congress to move into the district that you want to represent."

Congresswoman Elaine Luria no longer lives in the 2nd Congressional District, although she could establish residency in Virginia Beach. Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says that district has some recent history to consider. "Former Congressman Randy Forbes, when he was drawn out of the 4th Congressional District, attempted to run in a special election in the 2nd Congressional District. Him not living in the district became a big issue," Kidd remembers, "and so I can only imagine that Elaine Luria and her campaign staff aren't thinking about the dynamics of the way that race played out."

The calculation is much more difficult for members of the General Assembly, who are legally required to live in the districts they represent.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Updated: January 6, 2022 at 5:16 PM EST
Thursday afternoon, Rep. Luria announced she will run in the redrawn 2nd District, though her residence of record is now in the 3rd District.
Luria said she'll move from Norfolk to Virginia Beach.
Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.