Luria, Kiggans spar in toss-up district

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The upcoming midterm elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. VWU lies within Virginia’s Second Congressional District, with incumbent Democrat Elaine Luria and challenger Republican Jen Kiggans competing for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

FiveThirtyEight, a polling organization that forecasts the results of elections nationwide, estimates that Kiggans has a 52% chance of winning compared to Luria’s 48%. The Wason Center at Christopher Newport University concurs, saying that Luria and Kiggans are both estimated to have 45% of the votes, with roughly 8% of voters stating they are undecided.

During the campaign, Luria raised almost $8.8 million. A total of $7.2 million went towards political ads, combining money from committees, PACs and VoteVets. Luria was her own largest donor for political ads, providing $4.1 million in total.

In comparison, Kiggans raised $2.6 million. Outside of that, $6.2 million was spent on political ads. The money for political ads was assembled from committees, PACs, Kiggans herself and advocacy groups. The largest donor for Kiggans’ ads was the Congressional Leadership Fund. 

In the Republican Primary held on June 21, Kiggans won 55.6% of the vote to beat out other candidates for the general election. Luria ran unopposed in the Democratic nomination process.

As a result of the redistricting process done every 10 years, the line of the Second District changed. The current district excludes the previously included areas of Williamsburg, Hampton, Portsmouth and Norfolk, while the new district is extended west to the city of Franklin. The new lines even closer races between democratic and republican candidates.

Alex Cain, a junior, explained how redistricting can change the outcome of elections. “Redistricting always shakes things up,” Cain said. “I think that it really encourages candidates to form new connections with their constituents instead of just coasting on name recognition and accumulated social capital.” 

Mel Lhuillier|Marlin Chronicle

On Oct. 12, Kiggans and Luria faced off in a debate at the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront. The debate focused on two major issues: the economy and a woman’s right to have an abortion. Their discussion also covered election security and border security.

In regards to abortion rights, Kiggans said that she has “been a person who supported abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger.” Kiggans said, “I don’t think that is an extreme position.”

Kiggans also stressed that it is a state issue and that she wants women to feel that “there are other options out there” besides abortion.

During her response, Luria called Kiggans an extremist. “If you are a woman dying because of a complicated pregnancy, [Kiggans] certainly wants to tell you how to live your life. Or if you are a 10-year-old who is a rape or incest victim who can’t get an abortion here in Virginia,” she said.

“There are a lot of things at stake that I think VWU students care about,” Cain said, “The abortion issue is front and center in this race, as well as the debate about what role the government should play in healthcare.”

Throughout the debate, both candidates accused the other of various lies. Throughout their campaigns, there was frequent criticism from both sides. Looking at independent expenditures, roughly $3.2 million was spent on anti-Luria material and about $1.7 million was spent on anti-Kiggans material.

“It’s fairly normal for political campaigns to devolve into mudslinging, especially as election day approaches. I think that this leaves a bad taste in a lot of peoples’ mouths when it comes to politics, but it’s really just a symptom of how divided we are as a country,” Cain said.

Cain feels connected to the race as a result of volunteering for the Kiggans campaign. “Working on the Kiggans campaign made me realize how many eyes are on this race specifically,” Cain said. “I think that this election may be a good indicator of how things will go in 2024.”

Luria gained more national attention because of her time on the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. “One party, and the leadership of that party that my opponent wants to support and vote for as speaker (of the House), doesn’t have the courage to stand up and actually say that it was wrong that we had a violent insurrection at the Capitol,” Luria said.

Kiggans said that she believes those who broke the law during the riots should be held accountable. Following that, she said, “I want people to feel like when they cast their vote that they have cast it confidently and that their vote counts.”

Kiggans avoided answering questions from reporters surrounding the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency.

In her closing remarks, Kiggans stressed that her entire life “has been about service.” Kiggans continued by reminding viewers that Luria votes with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi 99% of the time, and Luria’s name is attached to the policies that continue the “wasteful spending” of money that leads to a hurting economy.

In her closing words, Luria directly spoke on the debate of Biden’s legitimacy. “And I will tell you, there are certain cases where I am not your candidate. I am not your candidate if you think the election was stolen. I am not your candidate if you think $70 million should go to a forensic audit of the 2020 election in a state where Biden won by 10 points and there is no hint of election fraud anywhere,” she said.

Kiggans and Luria will be joined on the ballot by those running for City Council and School Board positions. For District 4, Amelia Ross-Hammond is running unopposed for City Council while Kenneth Lubeck and Staci Martin are running for the District 4 seat on the School Board.

On Oct. 28, Wesleyan Engaged will host an event on the importance of voting, featuring Kate Slayton from Virginia21, a Richmond-based group that seeks to encourage college students to be politically active. The event will be held in the Grille of the Batten Student Center from 1-2 p.m.

Early voting began on Sept. 24 and officially ends on Nov. 5. Early voting locations in Virginia Beach are open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Voter Registration & Elections Municipal Center, Bayside Recreation Center, Great Neck Recreation Center, Seatack Recreation Center and the M. E. Oberndorf Central Library. 

On Election Day, Nov. 8, polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Those registered to vote at VWU can vote at Ebenezer Baptist Church at 965 Baker Rd in Virginia Beach on Election Day.

Additional election information can be found at

The deadline for requesting a ballot by mail is Oct. 28 and the ballot must be postmarked for return by mail by Nov. 8 to be counted.

By Rhian Tramontana