Virginia GOP voters will settle crowded congressional runoffs

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Voters in Virginia are expected to choose Republican candidates for two races on Tuesday that are expected to be among the most competitive of the year for U.S. House seats.

Voters will win a four-person field in the 2nd Coastal District and a six-person field in the 7th Central District to face centrist Democratic incumbents Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger. General election races could help determine which party controls the US House.

“The way to topple the United States House is through Hampton Roads, through VA-02,” said Senator Jen Kiggans, the presumptive frontrunner for the 2nd District, in a recent interview. “I understand the seriousness of this, and that is why we have worked hard.”

Kiggans is a former Navy helicopter pilot and geriatric nurse practitioner who has served in the state Senate since 2020. Her Tuesday opponents are also all veterans. They include Tommy Altman, owner of a tattoo shop in Virginia Beach; Andy Baan, a former prosecutor who retired as a sea captain; and Jarome Bell, a retired Navy chief petty officer who calls himself the “MAGA candidate”.

Former President Donald Trump did not approve in the 2nd or 7th districts.

Don Lovett, 74, who lives in Smithfield, said in a recent interview that he was leaning towards voting for Kiggans because of her military service and experience in the General Assembly, which he said made her more likely to beat Luria in November. Luria, also a Navy veteran, is a moderate member of the Jan. 6 committee investigating the 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Lovett, who owns a company that distributes specialist electrical instruments, said he saw little difference on the issues between the candidates, but was put off by some of the harsh rhetoric from Bell, who called for execute anyone involved in what he claims is a widespread voter. fraud.

“I will try to choose a good candidate for sure, but also the most eligible candidate, especially if the race is going to be close, and I think it will be,” he said.

The 2nd District covers much of the Virginia coast, including the city of Virginia Beach and the east coast. GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin won it by more than 11 points last year, according to analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

The 7th arrondissement has been completely remodeled thanks to the redistricting which took it away from the suburbs of Richmond. It now covers a swath of cities and counties between Charlottesville and suburban Washington, and the GOP nomination fight there is seen as more volatile, with several contenders claiming momentum.

State Sen. Bryce Reeves, an Army veteran and former police detective, faces off against Derrick Anderson, a former Green Beret and Georgetown Law graduate, and Yesli Vega, a local elected official with experience enforcing law that got top marks. Crystal Vanuch and David Ross, who sit on local watchdogs, and Gina Ciarcia, an educator who has followed the pack in fundraising, are also in the running.

A former CIA officer, Spanberger like Luria overturned a competitive seat held by the GOP in 2018 and is now competing under lines that Youngkin would have won, according to analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project.

Spanberger said in a statement that she is focused on meeting the needs of her constituents.

“Whoever wins Tuesday night will have little impact on my service to our Commonwealth and my continued focus on the concerns of Virginia families, businesses and seniors,” Spanberger said.

Also on Tuesday, Republican U.S. Representative Ben Cline, who currently represents the Shenandoah Valley-based 6th District, faces a challenge from Navy veteran Merritt Hale.

Several of Virginia’s other crowded GOP nominating contests have already been settled during party-led processes.

No Democratic incumbent, but Don Beyer, who represents northern Virginia’s heavily Democratic 8th district, faces a primary challenger. Victoria Virasingh is competing with the four-term holder and former lieutenant governor for the nomination.

After Tuesday, the two major parties will have one candidate in each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts.

Voting hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Associated Press reporter Ben Finley contributed to this report from Norfolk.