DUMFRIES, Va. (AP) — Republicans ousted one of three Democratic congresswomen from Virginia who faced tough re-election bids on Tuesday in a midterm election season where the GOP sought to regain control of the House of Representatives.
Republican challenger Jen Kiggans, state senator, defeated Democratic incumbent Elaine Luria in a district centered in Virginia Beach that was changed during the redistricting to make it more GOP-friendly.
But Abigail Spanberger won re-election against Republican Yesli Vega in a 7th District seat that the GOP had made one of its top national goals. And another Democratic incumbent, Jennifer Wexton, pushed back Republican Hung Cao in Virginia’s 10th District, which is centered in the nation’s capital’s outer suburbs.
“I am honored to have another opportunity to serve this beautiful district,” Wexton said in a victory speech to supporters.
“We fought well and made our voices heard,” Cao said in conceding.
Wexton, Spanberger and Luria were all elected to Congress in 2018. All three are top GOP targets in this election cycle.
Luria’s race against Kiggans and Spanberger’s race against Vega, a Prince William County supervisorin particular, are among the highest-profile congressional races in the nation.
Luria, a retired naval commander, runs in Virginia’s 2nd District. It includes Virginia Beach and is home to an oversized military presence. It has long been a swing district in Virginia and the rest, though the latest round of redistricting has changed the boundaries in a way that has made it slightly more GOP-friendly than it was.
Kiggans also has military bona fides as a former Navy helicopter pilot. Luria, who sits on the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, called Kiggans an election denier. Kiggans has acknowledged that Joe Biden is president but has remained silent on whether she thinks he was fairly elected.
Spanberger, in his run, saw the boundaries of his 7th district radically reshuffled, forcing him to run for a whole new set of voters. The district was based in central Virginia in 2018 when she became the Democratic Party’s sweetheart for ousting conservative Republican Dave Brat.
The district is now centered in the northern Virginia and Fredericksburg areas, and Spanberger does not live within its new borders.
Spanberger campaigned on abortion rights, running ads highlighting Vega’s comments that expressed doubts about whether women could get pregnant from rape.
Vega has raised millions and brought in high-profile GOP surrogates. She highlighted her life story as the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants and would become Virginia’s first Latin congresswoman if elected.
Wexton, a former state attorney and legislator, was favored in her bid for re-election. Wexton won more than 56% of the vote in his last two elections. But Republicans had high hopes for Cao, a retired Navy captain and Vietnamese immigrant, in a district with high percentages of Asian Americans and military families.
Woodbridge’s Ted Lyons and his wife voted early Friday for Vega.
“She kind of aligns with what we believe,” he said, citing the former police officer’s support for law enforcement.
Triangle’s Derek Franklin voted for Spanberger.
“I think Vega is too extreme,” he said.
None of the Spanberger voters interviewed at an early voting site in Dumfries on Friday said they felt unfamiliar with Spanberger, despite his district reshuffling. On the contrary, they said they were inundated with information from both candidates.
In Virginia’s coastal 2nd congressional district, Jim Ross said he voted Republican because of the economy, particularly rising inflation and instability in the stock market.
“If I had known it would be like this, I would have bought an electric car and taken all my retirement money out of it,” said Ross, 61, a retired electrician from Virginia Beach.
Ross wants to send Kiggans to Washington to help stop Democrats from spending government money, which he says has contributed to high inflation.
“I can believe in early stimulus packages,” Ross regarding pandemic relief. “But the last one, I don’t think they needed to do.”
But Deborah McElroy, 72, of Virginia Beach, said Republicans offered no real economic solution.
“What do they see that I don’t see?” said McElroy, who retired from a career in radiology and is an adjunct professor of medical terminology. “Whoever interest group offers (Kiggans) the most money, that’s how she goes. So how do they think she’s going to help the economy? I had to. to lack.”
McElroy said she voted for Luria because the two-term Democrat is seasoned, strives to be bipartisan and supports a strong military. Additionally, Luria supports women’s right to abortion.
“I agree with her that it should be a personal choice,” McElroy said.
In the state’s other eight congressional districts, four Republican incumbents – Morgan Griffith, Rob Wittman, Bob Good and Ben Cline – and four Democratic incumbents – Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin – were all easily reelected. .
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Matthew Barakat and Ben Finley, Associated Press