Daily Press: Rigell says he's willing to buck party for good of his district
Jul 23, 2012 -
By Todd Allen Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org | 804-643-0056
NEWPORT NEWS – U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, said at a campaign event Tuesday that President Barack Obama's energy policy is keeping the state from possibly adding thousands of new jobs.
Rigell is running for re-election in the 2nd Congressional District, which now includes a number of precincts in Newport News and Hampton due to redistricting. He told a crowd of roughly 30 people at a "meet and greet" at Pearl French Bistro that not only is off-shore drilling a national security issue, but estimates say that opening up energy resources off the coast could bring 18,000 jobs to the region.
"That's why I'm so insistent, whenever I have the opportunity...l I say, 'Mr. President get out of the way here,'" Rigell said. "Let us create 18,000 jobs, and create energy that will make us less dependent on other countries. It's just hard for me to process why he's got a full-lock on this."
The freshman congressman also said energy expansion should not be limited to fossil fuels, but should include wind farms off the coast of Virginia Beach.
"We have a tremendous opportunity in wind and related industries," Rigell said. "I've always said that 1 to 2 percent of our budget, I do believe, (should go into) some advance investment in moving us away from fossil fuels."
Rigell said on this issue he is in line with the environmental advocacy group the Sierra Club, and at odds with some in his party.
He cited that as an example of him being willing to buck GOP leadership in Congress for the good of his district.
Rigell also pointed out that he voted against holding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress — although he did approve holding Holder in civil contempt — and that he disavowed Grover Norquist's "no-tax pledge," which he had originally signed when he ran for office in 2010.
As a founder of the bipartisan Fix Congress Now Caucus — which includes Democratic Reps. Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Kurt Schrader of Oregon in leadership roles — Rigell said he is willing to find common ground with members across the aisle.
But common ground, he said, is not the same as "compromise."
"I don't like the word compromise — you really won't hear me ever use that word," Rigell said. "I am convinced that this exists... that there is common ground that is fiscal common ground."
Steven Jones, communications director for Rigell's Democratic opponent Paul Hirschbiel, said Rigell's campaign comments are a case of saying one thing at home and doing another in Washington.
Jones said Rigell "co-sponsored the radical personhood bill and supported a hyper-partisan budget that would increase the cost of Medicare for the average family by $6,000 a year and cuts $115 billion from education, while at the same time giving new tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires."
"It's hard to pretend to be a moderate when you vote in lock step with your party 93 percent of the time, and even the conservative Heritage Foundation lists you as their most partisan supporter in Virginia," Jones said.
Rigell, however, made no bones about his conservative credentials or recognition from the Heritage Foundation.
"Just look at my record with respect to spending, with respect to health care I am a fiscal conservative," Rigell said. "This is lived out in every one of my votes."