RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Representative Elaine Luria and her GOP challenger, Virginia State Senator Jen Kiggans, are set to square off Wednesday in the first debate in their closely watched race to represent the 2nd Coastal District. of Congress.
The swing-district race between the two Navy veterans is among the most competitive in midterm of this year and will help determine whether Democrats maintain control of the US House.
Luria and Kiggans will debate a range of issues important to the region, including infrastructure and military affairs, according to the Hampton Roads Chamber, which hosted the event.
The debate runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the WTKR television channel will broadcast it live, according to the chamber. Chris Saxman, a former Republican member of the House of Delegates, will moderate.
The 2nd District covers much of Virginia’s coastline, including the east coast and the state’s most populous city, Virginia Beach. Although it no longer includes Norfolk, home to the largest naval station in the world, it is home to many military veterans. Luria returned the district blue under her previous lines; under his new limits, 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.
Cook’s nonpartisan political report views the race as a toss-up.
Millions of dollars have already been raised and spent on the race, including more than $11.6 million on political ads, according to information compiled by Kantar Media and published by VPAP.
Luria, a retired naval commander who served as a nuclear-trained surface warfare officer, cultivated a congressional identity as a centrist since she flipped the district blue under its previous lines in 2018. She serves as vice-chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and is a member of the January 6 committee investigating the 2021 attack on the Capitol.
Kiggans, which has represented parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk in the state Senate since 2020, easily defeated three opponents in the June primary. A former Navy helicopter pilot and geriatric nurse practitioner, Kiggans struggled to overcome Luria’s large fundraising lead. Luria did not face a main challenger.
The two candidates have agreed to a candidates forum on Oct. 17 in Smithfield and a televised debate on Oct. 25, according to Luria communications director Jayce Genco.
All 11 Virginia House seats in the United States, which were redesigned last year during the once-a-decade redistricting process, are challenged in November. Along with the 2nd District, the 7th and 10th Districts in Northern Virginia are considered the most competitive.
Early voting began at the end of September and will continue until November 5. Election day is November 8.
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