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Luria, Kiggans spar in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District debate

After the debate, 13News Now asked Kiggans if she believes President Biden fairly won the 2020 election. She didn't directly answer.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The candidates for Virginia's 2nd District hit the debate stage for the first time Wednesday. 

Republican State Sen. Jen Kiggans is challenging two-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria for the seat. 

Many regard the race as one of, if not the, most watched contest across the country. 

The Hampton Roads Chamber hosted the debate at the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront on Atlantic Avenue. 

Luria and Kiggans, both Navy veterans, hit on several topics, including the American economy, abortion, veterans' health care, defense spending and the Southern border crisis. 

At times, the debate became quite spirited, with both candidates challenging the other on their positions. 

The responses to the first question set a theme for the rest of the debate, with Kiggans often saying policies supported by Luria aren’t working, and Luria claiming her opponent doesn’t offer solutions. 

When asked about where they would rank the health of the American economy on a scale of one to 10, Kiggans called issues, like inflation and gas prices, "by far the number one issue." 

"We have inflation at a 40-year high right now. It went to from 9.1%, 8.5, 8.3. It was 1.4% when Joe Biden took office," said Kiggans. "This November will be a referendum on what I consider to be failed economic policies.”

Kiggans blamed inflation and high gas prices on what she calls "failed" policies by the Biden administration supported by Luria.

Meanwhile, Luria touted efforts to address the problems, like a bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, and she blamed inflation on Russia. 

“Gas prices are high because Vladimir Putin made them high," said Luria. "I voted for the Inflation Reduction Act because it is the largest investment in an all-above energy plan."  

Kiggans, Navy veteran helicopter pilot and nurse practitioner, and Luria, also a Navy veteran of two decades, shared different views on the current state of defense spending. 

“What I see is weakened military and a defense budget that does not meet the needs of the Navy," said Kiggans. 

“With my opponent saying I haven’t gotten it done, I don’t think there’s another single member of Congress who’s gotten $62 billion added to the defense budget since the end of the Trump administration,” Luria said.

But the debate took a turn when the candidates challenged each other on their stance on abortion.

"Her reason for running [was to] to protect the sanctity of life! Her number one reason. She does not believe in choice," said Luria of her opponent citing what she claimed were statements made by Kiggans during the primaries. 

"I don’t know why my candidate continues to lie about me," responded Kiggans, who called herself a pro-life candidate. "I’ve always been a person who supports abortion in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother."

Kiggans also said she supports access to birth control and contraception.

Kiggans later challenged Luria, saying, "What are your restrictions on abortion?

Luria said she believes a woman should have the right to choose and voted to codify Roe v Wade. She also said called the law in Virginia “reasonable."

The current political climate also became a hot topic.

In her opening remarks, Kiggans said she grew tired of "negative rhetoric and division," which motivated her to run for state senate.

Luria drew a line in the sand, saying, "I am not your candidate if you believe the election was stolen." Luria also accused Kiggans of being an election denier.

After the debate, 13News Now asked Kiggans about Luria's comments and if she believes President Biden fairly won the 2020 presidential election. She did not directly answer about the legitimacy of that race. 

“A lot of extreme words have been used in this campaign," she said. "And again, I think that is what is wrong with politics, I think we need to get rid of the negative rhetoric. And that’s why I ran for office. I hate that stuff.”

More attempts to ask the question went unanswered before Kiggans walked off. 

“She doesn’t have the courage to answer that question repeatedly," said Luria after the debate. 

13News Now livestreamed the entire debate. The candidates discussed plenty of other topics, ranging from veteran healthcare to the border crisis to their philosophy on U.S.-China relations to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

You can watch the full debate by clicking here


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