Rep. Randy Forbes, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee who championed the Navy and the military presence in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region, lost his Republican primary Tuesday after switching to a neighboring district.
Forbes, first elected to Congress in 2001, ran in the 2nd District after court-mandated redistricting made his current 4th District seat more Democratic. On the campaign trail, Forbes argued his influence as chairman of the House Armed Services’ Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee could increase federal spending in Hampton Roads and protect the cluster of military installations there.
He lost to state Del. Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, who painted Forbes as an opportunist for abandoning his district, reported Defense News. Taylor also benefitted from the same national momentum for an insurgent candidate that catapulted Donald Trump to the GOP presidential nomination.
Forbes recently scheduled a hearing aboard the USS Eisenhower at Norfolk Naval Station to highlight the need to commit more spending to expand the Navy’s fleet, but was forced to cancel it after the Pentagon raised concerns.
But the episode still allowed Forbes to draw attention to the $848 million shortfall in the Navy’ current operations and maintenance accounts, according to the story. He has called for bolstering the fleet to 350 ships and recommended increasing the DOD’s budget request for shipbuilding by $2.3 billion to $20.6 billion in the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill. That would represent the highest level of funding authorized for shipbuilding since the end of the Cold War.
“We are not currently providing our Navy with the resources it needs to do what we ask,” Forbes said during a private visit to the Eisenhower that replaced the public hearing. “At least not without burning out our ships and our planes and our sailors and undermining our long-term readiness.”