Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Kiggans beats Luria in key U.S. House victory for GOP

Jen Kiggans

Jen Kiggans. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Republican Virginia state Sen. Jen Kiggans beat two-term Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria on Tuesday evening in one of the country’s most tightly contested U.S. House races, the Associated Press reported.

Why it matters: The Virginia Beach-anchored district, which was rated as a toss-up by Cook Political Report, was a focus of the GOP’s push to win back the House.

  • As with Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s win last year, Kiggans’ victory again indicates Republicans can win in moderate districts by keeping former President Trump at arm's length.

The big picture: The race pitted two Navy veterans against each other in a military-heavy district that became slightly more favorable for Republicans when it was redrawn last year.

  • Like most Republicans, Kiggans emphasized economic issues throughout the campaign, attempting to tie Luria to President Biden and inflation. Luria, meanwhile, focused on her support for abortion rights in addition to what she has called “the ongoing threat to American democracy.”

Background: Luria, a former Navy commander who served on the House committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, sharply criticized Kiggans during their first debate for refusing to denounce conspiracy theorists in the Republican Party.

Later in the debate, Kiggans, a nurse practitioner and former Navy helicopter pilot, faulted Luria and Democrats in general for their criticisms of Republicans, accusing her opponent of stoking divisions.

  • “We’re not enemies,” she said.

Worth noting: Trump, who issued a late endorsement of Republican Yesli Vega in Virginia’s tight 7th Congressional District race, did not weigh in on the 2nd District.

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