The new congressman from Virginia's 4th District is Democrat Norman Sisisky, 55, a self-made millionaire from Petersburg, a majority-black city in Southside Virginia which he represented for nine years in the state House of Delegates.
Sisisky, who spent more than $250,000 of his own money in a heated race against five-term Republican incumbent Robert W. Daniel Jr., campaigned heavily on economic issues and against cuts in Social Security benefits. His sophisticated television ads kept hitting at the 52 percent rise in unemployment in the district since 1980.
He called himself a "fiscal conservative" but dubbed the Reagan approach "fiscal insanity." To bring down the federal deficit, he advocated a repeal of the third year of the tax cut and a closer look at the defense budget.
Sisisky's victory, with 54 percent of the vote, was attributed in large part to the district's basic Democratic character and to his support among black voters, who make up close to 40 percent of the electorate.
Daniel, a conservative who owns and operates a 4,500-acre plantation on the James River, was criticized by Sisisky for neglecting the interests of the district--one of the state's poorest--and sticking to a rigid ideological position. "You need flexibility in Congress," Sisisky told audiences.
Sisisky, who served on the legislature's powerful money committees, kept a low profile in Richmond while working hard for the interests of his district.
The son of a Lithuanian immigrant, Sisisky was born in Baltimore and moved with his family to Richmond during the Depression. He went into the Pepsi-Cola bottling business with his father-in-law and built up the company and his fortune through aggressive salesmanship. As a result of his efforts, Petersburg ranks among the nation's top 10 cities in per-capita consumption of Pepsi-Cola.