America’s first-ever women’s war veteran race

According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI), Virginia’s Congressional District 2 (CD 2) is the nation’s preeminent “middle” district. According to Cook’s ranking, 217 of the nation’s 435 congressional districts are considered more Democratic and 217 more Republican.

According to Cook, FiveThirtyEight and other election analysis services, this puts Virginia CD 2 firmly among Ballotpedia’s 36 “battleground” districts and among 22 November 8 “tosup” races across the country for Congressional seats now held by Democrats.

It also makes the Congressional election in Virginia’s CD 2, as well as the Commonwealth’s CD 7, one of the two most-watched U.S. midterm races in the nation.

While it is a “middle” swing quarter, CD 2 also has some unique characteristics that set it apart.

For one thing, November 8 will see the nation’s first-ever general election where both U.S. House candidates are female military veterans.

On the other hand, the Democratic incumbent has won consecutive races in the purple district, but may have crossed the line with some GOP voters who had supported her in the past while serving on the House committee investigating the violation. of the Capitol on January 6.

Two-term Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) is a retired Navy commander who served more than two decades as a combat specialist, including Iraq and Afghanistan war deployments aboard of carriers based in CD 2.

Challenger Republican Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) served 10 years in the Navy as a submarine-hunting helicopter pilot during combat deployments also aboard ships based in the district.

Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) of the Virginia Republican Congressional District 2 state candidate speaks with voters at a restaurant in Virginia Beach during a February breakfast as part of her 20 months to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) in November. (Courtesy of Jen Kiggans for Congress)

That background is important to earning CD 2, which spans Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and parts of Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base with 82,000 active duty sailors stationed among a dense population of military retirees where veterans affairs is a paramount issue. .

The redistribution after the 2020 census appears to benefit Kiggans, which defeated three other military veterans in the Commonwealth GOP primary on June 21.

Under new maps that move Democratic-leaning Newport News, Williamsburg and Norfolk out of the district and move parts of the Republican-leaning areas of Tidewater into it – including all of Isle of Wight County and parts of Southampton County – CD 2 now receives a light CPVI R+3 red.

With a new slight Republican slant, FiveThirtyEight gives the Kiggans a 57% chance of winning the election, though the race is otherwise still ranked almost evenly as a “tossup” because Luria is a well-funded and tough campaigner who edged out the incumbent Republican representative. Scott Taylor (R-Va.), a former Navy SEAL, in 2018 and then beat him again by a more convincing margin in a rematch in 2020.

Since then, Luria has built up an incumbent advantage among the district’s constituency with a reputation for aggressive advocacy on behalf of veterans while supporting defense budgets.

A self-proclaimed moderate, Luria sits on the House Veterans Affairs panel and serves as vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, a prestigious position for a congressional representative still a junior, and also sits on the Jan. 6 panel. she boasts. in campaign literature, angering Republicans.

Luria has also built up a significant fundraising advantage over Kiggans. According to his June 30 Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign filing, his campaign raised more than $5.927 million, spent $1.747 million and had $4.322 million in cash.

The Kiggans campaign in its June 30 FEC filing reported raising nearly $1.566 million, spending $1.152 million and having $413,729 in cash.

Both candidates are strong defense supporters and veterans advocates, but their platforms then vary by party.

Kiggans Campaign

Kiggans completed nursing school and became a certified geriatric nurse practitioner after leaving the Navy. She was elected to the State Senate in 2019, representing the 7th House District, while working full-time as a nurse.

His campaign platform calls for increased border security, lower income and corporate tax rates, encouraging more school choice, and opposing the critical race theory taught in public primary and secondary schools.

Kiggans, who defeated former President Donald Trump-endorsed party rival Jarome Bell in his GOP primary, opposes abortion while supporting gun owner rights and cutting back on federal spending and regulations

She told The Epoch Times in June that she had campaigned directly against Luria since deciding to run in the spring of 2021. Her goal, she said, was to make the Nov. 8 election “a referendum on the disastrous policies of Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. ”

She said she would hammer Democrats on the economy. “The economy, the economy, the economy is the number one problem,” she said. “Virginians are as frustrated as any American, with gasoline, grocery prices at record highs and the economy in shambles. It’s time to put conservative Republicans back in the driver’s seat” to outwit “danger and madness of one-party rule” under the Democrats.

In his campaign’s first ad, “Restoring American Strength in Our Economy,” published Aug. 25, Kiggans speaks out on this theme, saying the policies supported by Luria have helped fuel and food prices rise.

“Nowadays, everything from food to fuel costs more,” Kiggans said in the ad. “But how did we get here? Elaine Luria and Joe Biden have spent billions of dollars, leaving us with the highest inflation in 40 years.

An Aug. 24 television ad funded by a Republican House Congressional Leadership Fund-affiliated super PAC directly links Luria to Biden and Pelosi.

“You’d have to be pretty disconnected to praise the economy, but that’s exactly what Elaine Luria did,” the ad reads. “As you struggle, Luria spits liberal talking points, making excuses for Biden and Pelosi.”

Luria’s Campaign

Luria’s campaign has already run three ads. Luria’s first two ads highlight her participation in the Jan. 6 committee, which may — or may not — be a gamble to secure the Republican votes needed to win the purple district.

The first ad ties in with her oath to the Constitution when she joined the Navy, and the second makes fun of elected Republicans and conservative media thinkers.

The latest, published August 4, focuses on abortion access following the late June US Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe v Wade and the referral of abortion regulation to the United States. States.

“When millions of women lost their right to choose, Kiggans celebrated, because she wants to make abortion illegal and allow politicians to ban abortion without exception for rape, incest or danger to the life of the woman. mother,” the ad reads.

Luria called the Roe decision “a rollback for women’s rights in the United States.” A woman’s right to choose should be established between a woman, her health care provider and her faith.

Roe’s repeal is another reason Virginia’s CD 2 remains a “tossup” in most forecasts. The outlier is FiveThirtyEight’s 40,000 times simulation in which Kiggans wins 57 out of 100 reps. These simulations were run in August. In late June, before the Roe’s repeal, Kiggans won 74 out of 100 simulation races.

John Haughey

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John Haughey has worked as a journalist since 1978 and has extensive experience in local government, state legislatures, growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard the USS Constellation. He has reported for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York and Florida; a writer for Manhattan-based trade publications.

Jack L. Goldstein