VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Taking care of citizens back home is an important part of being in Congress. Helping cut through government red tape to get the people the benefits they've earned is part of the job.
Virginia Second District Representative Elaine Luria is proud of the work her staff has done in their first 19 months on the job.
"If you do a snapshot of today, we have recovered $2.7 million for constituents and closed 267 cases," she said.
Republican challenger Scott Taylor -- who was also Luria's predecessor -- called the Congresswoman's record "pathetic," adding that his staff, in their first year and a half on the job accomplished much more.
"To put that in comparison, Elaine Luria has closed less than 250 cases, at the same time we have closed over 1,300 cases at this point in our term," he said.
But Luria replied that she's not simply counting every phone call her staff answered or every routine request that was made and resolved.
"It shows a gross misunderstanding of what constituent casework is," she said. "We reported the number of cases that involved interaction with a government agency. If you just say 'constituent work,' if you want to compare numbers, I went back and I looked and we had over 1,700 constituent interactions. Which is counting all the things he's counting, like taking a tour of the Capitol or flying a flag, requesting a number for the DMV or the dog catcher. We're not counting every phone call we're getting into the office."
But Taylor says the citizens deserve more.
"There are literally hundreds or thousands of people here walking around who have not been helped," he said. "And the reality is, representation in a global pandemic, when every single congressional office has an uptick in cases, she has failed them. She has been more concerned about partisan Pelosi politics in Washington when our people have suffered. Quite frankly I'm disappointed, because I know my people aren't getting helped."
Of course, those very constituents -- the voters -- will get the final say on November 3, when it comes to deciding which candidate has done a better job of serving them: the Democrat Luria, or her Republican predecessor Taylor, who held the job for one two-year term until Luria defeated him by two percentage points in 2018.