VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It took less than ten minutes before things got a little testy between Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va., 2nd District) and Republican challenger, former congressman Scott Taylor.
Taylor launched the first salvo, criticizing the fact that Luria, as part of her personal portfolio, has an undisclosed amount of money invested in a Chinese firm.
"I don't even understand how, especially right now, how a U.S. congresswoman would invest in Chinese manufacturing," he said. "Because, when it comes time to place your own personal bet on manufacturing, you bet on China."
Luria responded: "I don't think we came here to talk about personal finances. But, if you want to talk about personal finances, if you want to talk about your bankruptcy, about your millions of dollars on judgements, about your failure to pay your property taxes on time, we can do that."
The 90-minute debate, sponsored by the Hampton Roads Chamber, was supposed to focus on business, taxes and regulatory issues.
But in answering one such question, Taylor veered into the political, accusing Luria of being tied too closely to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"This race is about contrasts," he said "The choice is clear. My opponent voted with Nancy Pelosi over 90 percent of the time, in many anti-business ways."
Luria fired back.
"Actually, he voted with Speaker Pelosi 310 times while he was in Congress," she said. "I have actually voted with Speaker Pelosi 72 times."
The candidates were asked about Virginia's Right to Work laws.
"Elaine Luria wants to mandate that, as a condition of employment, that you have to use your hard earned money and give it to unions, who give her money for those nasty ads," Taylor said. "So, it strangles business, but, it's worse for people."
Luria said: "He made a big deal about it. And I think in his comments he's overlooking the benefits that labor unions have made for the American worker. It's the reason that we have the five-day work week. It's the reason we have the 40-hour work week. It's the reason we we have so many things that keep people safe while they're at work. And I think he tried to make this a selling point. And truly, I think he's misguided."
Although it didn't come up in the debate, 13News Now asked the candidates about the Christopher Newport University Wason Center for Public Policy poll that came out this week, which shows Luria beating Taylor by seven percentage points.
"We've just worked hard," said Luria. "We've been everywhere. We've talked to people. Our doors are open. And we would really like the opportunity to continue to serve in the same way and represent Hampton Roads. And I think the numbers reflect that. But, what truly matter is what happens on November third."
But Taylor took issue with the poll itself. He said it was unfair, because he contends too many liberals were surveyed.
According to the Wason Center, 45 percent of the 807 poll respondents self-identified as conservative, and just 42 percent self-identified as liberal.
"I think it's nonsense," he said. "We had a poll that had us up by eight. I don't think I'm up eight. I don't think I'm down seven. I think it's a close race. And I think it's going to all come down to turnout. And ultimately, I believe that the President will win this district and that I will win as well."