Congressional elections are underway in Virginia, which has 11 congressional districts. Districts two and seven are expected to be extremely competitive and are currently held by democratic incumbents.
VA congressional district two contains multiple cities within Hampton Roads. Elaine Luria, a retired Navy Commander, currently represents the Hampton Roads region and is running again as the incumbent. She has served Virginia since 2019 and is focused on access to healthcare, green energy, economic vitality, maritime infrastructure, veterans aid and more.
According to her website, Luria has been based in the Hampton Roads area for quite a while and she studied at Old Dominion University and received a Master’s degree of Engineering Management.
“Of all members in the House Democratic Caucus, she served the longest on active duty, having completed 20 years of active military service with the U.S. Navy. Rep. Luria graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy,” according to luria.house.gov/.
Luria currently runs unopposed in the democratic primary election. The VA Republican primary election will determine which candidate will oppose Luria for the second district’s seat. The election date for the primary early voting begins on May 6 and lasts until June 18. Election day is set for Tuesday, June 21. The primary candidates are Tommy Altman, Andy Baan, Jarome Bell and Jen Kiggans.
At this time, State Senator Kiggans has blown her opponents out of the water with her fundraising efforts, which amount to a total of $665,209 as of March 2022. Bell trails behind her with a total of $327,556 raised. However, none of this compares to the whopping $2.8 million that Luria has raised so far.
The state of Virginia, along with 39 other states, has just redistricted the entire congressional district map. This means that there could be shifts in the overall attitudes of each district.
A ballot measure from 2020 brought about the new Virginia Redistricting Commission. This bipartisan body failed to produce a new map by the cutoff date, leaving the decision of the map lines up to the Virginia Supreme Court. There is no major difference in the seats or their partisan breakdown. There is now the same number of left and right-leaning seats as before, yet the redistricting process was intended to lower the overall efficiency gap.
According to FiveThirtyEight, an opinion polling analyst site, there are currently five left-leaning seats and five right-leaning seats and one highly competitive seat, which is Virginia’s seventh congressional district. FiveThirtyEight also notes that despite Luria’s incumbency in the second district, the partisan lean is towards the republicans by as much as six points.
Hunter Nordberg, a senior Political Science major at Virginia Wesleyan, is passionate about elections and gerrymandering in particular.
“Regardless of the outcome of these proceedings, the upcoming Congressional elections this November will happen with new congressional districts and one of the biggest districts to keep an eye on is right here in Virginia Beach,” said Nordberg. “The new Virginia 2nd Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Elaine Luria (D), saw some pretty significant changes, ” said Nordberg. “The new district continues to comprise the entire Eastern Shore and Virginia Beach, but compared to the old map the 2nd District no longer includes the cities of Williamsburg and Yorktown and now includes Suffolk, Chesapeake and smaller rural communities to the west and northwest of Suffolk.”
The new district lines could change the outcome of the election and pose a challenge to the incumbent, Luria.
“Based on 2020 voting data, the 2nd District will be about 2% more Republican than it was before redistricting,” said Nordberg. “This fact, in conjunction with the historical trend of majority party members to underperform in the midterms, should be worrying for her and her campaign staff.”
Dana Smith is a senior Education major at VWU. She has plans after graduation to stay and work in the Hampton Roads area. She feels that these future elections in particular will affect the next few years as an early teacher.
“It’s very important for Virginia Wesleyan students to vote in order for their voices to be heard and make a difference in the communities that they live in,” said Smith. “Due to the redistricting that has recently occurred in the state of Virginia it is extremely important to realize that your district has the potential to make a difference.”
Despite the impending race being competitive already, Nordberg has speculations about how things may play out.
“I expect Kiggans to win the primary contest and set up an all-former Navy pilot battle between herself and Luria in what will be one of the hottest and closest Congressional elections this November, ” said Nordberg. “Any prediction might as well be a coin flip this far out from November, but Congressional midterm history would suggest that we may have a new Representative in Virginia Beach come January 2023.”
By Katie Yeager