Competitive Va. U.S. House race features debate on Jan. 6, abortion

In the last of three debates in Virginia’s most competitive U.S. House race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria and her GOP challenger, Jen Kiggans, went back and forth about Jan. 6, 2021, and the House committee that was formed to investigate.

Luria sits on the committee that’s been looking into the events of that day, when rioters broke into the building as Congress certified Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

“It truly is key to being able to defend our democracy and our democratic institutions in the future,” Luria said. “I feel like my work on that committee is on the right side of history.”

Kiggans said that Jan. 6 was “a dark day in our nation’s history” and that “those that broke the law that day should be held accountable,” but she said she believed voters overall were not thinking about it leading into the Nov. 8 election.

“Nine times out of 10,” voters are talking about the economy, Kiggans said, citing concerns about high inflation and steep bills for utilities, groceries and gasoline.

“We’re seeing every single industry being impacted by those economic changes,” Kiggans said.

Luria called Kiggans an “election denier,” and Kiggans countered by saying “Joe Biden is the president of the United States; I’ve said it time and time again.”

The abortion issue

The candidates disagreed over the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that overturned the constitutional right to an abortion.

Luria said she stood against that ruling and that “a woman should have a right to choice.” When asked whether she supported any restrictions on abortions, Luria cited Virginia state law.

“I would seek to replicate the type of laws we see here in Virginia at the federal level,” Luria said.

Abortion is currently legal in Virginia through the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, which is about 26 weeks. Pregnant mothers can still get an abortion in the third trimester, but they need three doctors to sign off, saying that the health of the mother is at risk.

Kiggans described herself as “a pro-life candidate” who supports exceptions for rape, incest and when the mother’s life is at stake.

When pressed on whether she would support a potential national ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Kiggans refused to answer, only saying that she believes “the issue should be decided at the state level.”

The most competitive race

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 Virginia’s highly competitive 2nd Congressional District. The race could help determine party control of the U.S. House in the midterm elections.

The 2nd District covers much of Virginia’s coast, including the Eastern Shore and the state’s most populous city — Virginia Beach.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report considers the race a toss-up, and Luria and Kiggans were tied 45% to 45% in the latest polling from Christopher Newport University.

Along with the 2nd, the 7th and 10th districts, in Northern Virginia, are considered the most competitive races in Virginia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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