Virginia’s Luria, Kiggans clash in 2nd District debate

Oct 11, 2022, 9:13 PM | Updated: Oct 12, 2022, 2:47 pm
US Rep Elaine Lauria, D-2nd., left, gestures as Republican challenger Virginia State Sen. Jen Kigga...

US Rep Elaine Lauria, D-2nd., left, gestures as Republican challenger Virginia State Sen. Jen Kiggans, right, R-Virginia Beach, listens during a debate along with moderator Chris Saxman, center, sponsored by the Hampton roads Chamber of Congress Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Virginia Beach. Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria and her GOP challenger, Jen Kiggans, tangled over federal spending, the economy and abortion restrictions during a combative debate Wednesday, as the two Navy veterans sought to present themselves as the best equipped to represent Virginia’s military-heavy 2nd Congressional District.

Kiggans, a state senator, nurse practitioner and former Navy helicopter pilot, is trying to block Luria, a retired naval commander, from a third term representing the highly competitive district that could help determine party control of the U.S. House in next month’s midterm elections.

In sometimes-fiery exchanges, the candidates offered vastly different perspectives on the state of America’s economy and the other’s record during the approximately hour-and-a-half debate hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber at an oceanfront hotel.

Luria called Kiggans “an election denier” who is “not fit to serve” because she has repeatedly refused to say plainly that President Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election. Kiggans has answered questions on the topic — including during an interview with The Associated Press — by simply acknowledging Biden resides in the White House; she declined to answer questions about the 2020 election in a brief exchange with reporters after the debate.

Kiggans said Luria campaigns as a moderate but is actually unwilling to buck Biden or congressional leadership. She said “danger and insanity” in the halls of the Democrat-controlled Congress and what she cast as out-of-control spending have led to an economy “in shambles” and contributed to painfully high inflation.

“This November will be a referendum on what I consider to be failed economic policies from the Joe Biden administration,” she said.

When asked how they would rate the health of the U.S. economy on a scale of one to 10, Kiggans responded with a rating of one or “maybe a half.” Luria offered “about a six.”

Luria, who referred to her opponent throughout the debate as “Mrs. Kiggans” rather than by her elected title, said Biden administration policies like its version of the Paycheck Protection Program and the American Rescue Plan helped the economy, and especially small businesses, stay afloat and recover from the pandemic.

The candidates were also asked about abortion policy in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, stripping away constitutional protections for abortion.

Luria said she wants to codify Roe’s protections at the federal level and generally supports Virginia law, which allows the procedure during the first and second trimesters and has limits during the third trimester. She argued that limiting abortion would have negative economic impacts by turning away businesses that support abortion rights.

Kiggans called herself a “pro-life” candidate who supports exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. She said the issue should be left to the states to settle, a position Luria called unreasonable given that legislation has been proposed at the federal level.

The debate ended with a question about America’s divided political climate and what the candidates would do to address it.

Kiggans criticized a September primetime address by Biden, in which the president warned that the “extreme ideology” of former President Donald Trump and his adherents “threatens the very foundation of our republic.” In her answer, Kiggans called the Jan. 6 insurrection a “dark day” but did not mention Trump or his falsehoods about widespread fraud in the election.

Luria, a member of the Jan. 6 committee investigating the 2021 attack on the Capitol, said with her voice rising that Trump’s rhetoric had led to a “clear and present danger in this country.”

“I am not your candidate if you think the election was stolen,” she said, calling Kiggans an “election denier.”

The candidates found a handful of points of agreement, including on encouraging vaccinations against COVID-19, boosting defense spending and working to improve care for veterans’ mental health.

The 2nd district covers much of Virginia’s coast, including the Eastern Shore and the state’s most populous city — Virginia Beach. Although it no longer includes Norfolk, home to the world’s largest naval station, many veterans reside in the district. Luria flipped the district blue under its previous lines; under its new boundaries, GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin would have won it by more than 11 points last year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report considers the race a toss-up.

Millions of dollars have been raised and spent already on the race, including over $11.6 million on political ads, according to disclosures compiled by Kantar Media and published by VPAP.

Luria, who served as a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer, has cultivated a congressional identity as a centrist since flipping the district blue under its previous lines in 2018. She serves as vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

Kiggans, who has represented parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk in the state Senate since 2020, handily defeated three opponents in the June primary. Kiggans has struggled to overcome Luria’s sizeable fundraising lead. Luria did not face a primary challenger.

The two candidates have agreed also to a candidate forum Oct. 17 in Smithfield and a televised debate Oct. 25, according to Luria’s communications director, Jayce Genco.

All of Virginia’s 11 U.S. House seats, which were redrawn last year during the once-a-decade redistricting process, are being contested in November. Along with the 2nd District, the 7th and 10th Districts in northern Virginia are considered the most competitive.

Early voting began in late September and runs through Nov. 5. Election Day is Nov. 8.


This story has been updated to correct the wording of one Luria quote.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Protesters sing an anti-government song in front of a barricade of burning tires during a protest a...
Associated Press

US says it will expand, extend temporary status for Haitians

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Biden administration said Monday that it would expand temporary legal status for Haitians already living in the United States, determining conditions in the Caribbean nation were too dangerous for their forced return. The Homeland Security Department said Haitians who were in the United States Nov. 6 could apply for Temporary […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Amnesty International Canada says it was hacked by Beijing

TORONTO (AP) — The Canadian branch of Amnesty International said Monday it was the target of a cyberattack sponsored by China. The human rights organization said it first detected the breach Oct. 5 and hired forensic investigators and cybersecurity experts to investigate. Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, said the searches in their […]
21 hours ago
FILE - A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's military exercise during a news program at t...
Associated Press

N. Korea orders new artillery firings over South’s drills

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea’s military says it has ordered frontline units to conduct artillery firings into the sea for the second consecutive day in a tit-for-tat response to South Korean live-fire drills in an inland border region. The statement by the North Korean People’s Army’s General Staff came a day after the […]
21 hours ago
Fans of Brazil cheer their team after the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and Sou...
Associated Press

World Cup betting down in Las Vegas but higher than expected

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The World Cup may be the globe’s biggest sporting event, yet in the United States in the fall, it competes with a full sports betting calendar. Las Vegas sportsbook directors weren’t overly optimistic the betting would be higher than the 2018 World Cup, which was played in the more usual summer […]
21 hours ago
FILE -  Kirstie Alley attends the premiere of HBO's "Girls" on Jan. 5, 2015, in New York.  Alley, a...
Associated Press

Kirstie Alley, Emmy-winning ‘Cheers’ star, dies at 71

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kirstie Alley, a two-time Emmy winner whose roles on the TV megahit “Cheers” and in the “Look Who’s Talking” films made her one of the biggest stars in American comedy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died Monday. She was 71. Alley died of cancer that was only recently discovered, […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Former President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla...
Associated Press

What’s at stake as Trump Org. trial deliberations continue

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s one ballot former President Donald Trump would rather not be associated with: the verdict sheet at his company’s criminal tax fraud trial. Deliberations are set to spill into a second day Tuesday as jurors weigh charges that the Trump Organization helped executives dodge personal income taxes on perks such as […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Virginia’s Luria, Kiggans clash in 2nd District debate