Two women compete for 82nd District’s Republican nomination

June 4, 2021


Virginia Beach voters will decide this Saturday the Republican who will attempt to succeed Jason Miyares this fall as the 82nd District’s House of Delegate representative.

Miyares is no longer running after winning the party’s nod for attorney general, he confirmed via text.ADVERTISING

“As the child of an immigrant who fled communist Cuba, it had been such an honor to serve in the oldest democracy in the Western Hemisphere, the House of Delegates,” he wrote. “My hope is to continue to serve my constituents in Virginia Beach as their next Attorney General.”

His nomination opened the door for newcomers to compete for the Republican nomination for the 82nd district. Kathy Owens, a former Navy pilot and small business owner, and Anne Ferrell Tata, who works with Christian media to form partnerships with other organizations, said they would not have challenged Miyares if his bid for statewide office fell short.

The “firehouse primary” — elections run by a political party and originally held at single locations like firehouses — will be at Galilee Church at the Oceanfront from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, said Bill Curtis, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach.

He said the contest is meant for Republican voters in the 82nd district and that the party will ask questions — such as “Are you a registered Republican?” or “Have you voted in a Democratic primary in recent years?” — meant to discourage non-party members from voting.ADVERTISING

The race, which both candidates said has been friendly, is less about specific issues. The candidates, who have lived in Virginia Beach for decades, said they knew each other prior to the race, having met when they both volunteered on a previous Republican campaign.

Both agreed that their general platform and priorities — on abortion, gun rights and being business-friendly — closely align.

The race has instead become a contest of who’s the more electable candidate — the winner will face Democrat Scott Flax this November in the general election — and who would be able to accomplish more in Richmond, where their party is currently out of power.

The district has been a Republican stronghold for several elections. In the most recent contest, Miyares beat Democrat Gayle Johnson by a nearly 20-point margin in 2019.

Tata said the race has been a sprint over the past month, as Miyares officially won the Republican nomination for attorney general in May.

“It’s like hurry, hurry, hurry,” she said. “Everything is an emergency.”

Tata, 59, has been buoyed by her last name and party connections. Her father-in-law, Republican Bob Tata, represented the 85th district in Virginia Beach for three decades, from 1984 to 2014, when he retired. She has pitched herself as a people person, who has earned high-profile endorsements, including former governors Bob McDonnell and George Allen.

Owens, 57, is running more as a can-do outsider, though she still won the backing of some notable Republicans — such as former U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor. As a mother, a veteran and business owner, she said there is no one better to represent those groups than her. And many of them are frustrated, she said.

“They know I’m going to go fight for them,” she said.

She was sharply critical of the location of the primary, saying “The GOP Establishment is at it Again!” in a release because, in part, Tata is a member of the church that is host to the canvas.

Curtis said he had no idea Tata was a member of the church when it was chosen. He called both “outstanding candidates’’ who would “represent us exceedingly well.”

He said he expects the results for the nomination to be in by that Saturday night.

Kathleen Purdy Owens

Age: 57

Occupation: President, Beach Development Group

Previous office held, if any: None

Education: BS, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, The Ohio State University


Kathy Owens
Kathy Owens (Courtesy of Kathy Owens)


Anne Ferrell Tata

Age: 59

Occupation: Ministry partnerships liaison, Educational Media Foundation

Previous office held, if any: None

Education: BA, Communications, Florida State University


Anne Ferrell Tata
Anne Ferrell Tata (Courtesy of Anne Ferrell Tata)

Peter Coutu, 757-222-5124, [email protected]