Two of the most competitive U.S. House races in the nation are set following the Virginia primary elections Tuesday, as Republicans picked their candidates for the 2nd and 7th congressional districts.
“Both of these districts are potentially winnable by either party,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor with the University of Mary Washington.
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Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger represent the 2nd and 7th districts, respectively.
Both of them are in “toss-up” elections and are among the most vulnerable Democratic members of Congress in the country this year, according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
“Both of those districts are going to be very prominent with national donors and the national party organizations of both parties,” Farnsworth said.
In the 2nd District, which covers the Virginia Beach area, State Sen. Jen Kiggans won a Republican primary by defeating three opponents Tuesday and will face Luria in the November general election.
“The Republican selection of Kiggans creates a very, very competitive and challenging environment for congresswoman Luria,” said Farnsworth.
Farnsworth noted that the 2nd District became less favorable to Democrats during redistricting, when the boundaries of congressional districts were recently redrawn.
“That, coupled with the potential liability of inflation and other things that may create an anti-incumbent mood, suggests that that’s going to be a district to watch,” said Farnsworth.
Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega defeated five opponents and won the 7th District Republican primary Tuesday; she will face Spanberger in November.
The 7th District includes parts of Prince William, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Culpeper counties.
“Vega is a cultural warrior which is a very effective strategy for winning a Republican primary, but suburban voters in Northern Virginia often choose more moderate Republicans, so there is a potential liability,” Farnsworth said, noting that Vega campaigned alongside Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Monday.
In a statement, Vega said that she is “the first conservative Hispanic to win in a Republican congressional primary in Virginia.”
“Every candidate comes with assets and liabilities, and Vega’s asset is clearly her compelling personal story,” Farnsworth said. “For people who are not reflexively Democratic or reflexively Republican, that’s going to be a net positive.”