Rigell, who owns a chain of car dealerships in Hampton Roads, pushed his business background as the main reason that local voters should send him to Congress, blasting Democratic leaders for deficit spending.
The congressional midterm elections are an important indicator of the nation's political mood, and Republicans were expected to reclaim control of the House of Representatives and perhaps even the U.S. Senate.
Rigell's victory is a boon for the Virginia Republican Party because the district, which includes parts of Hampton and Norfolk and all of Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore, had been reliably Republican for a number of years prior to 2008.
Nye knocked off incumbent Thelma Drake during the 2008 campaign by eking out narrow victories in Hampton and Norfolk and rolling up a few thousand vote advantage in traditionally conservative Virginia Beach.
This year, there were early reports of heavy voter turnout in downtown Hampton at Armstrong Elementary School, which usually breaks for Democrats on Election Day. But further north in Hampton at Asbury Elementary School in Fox Hill Rigell signs surrounded the precinct where Nye gear was hard to spot.