VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Today's the day: candidates vying for the hotly-contested House seat in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District are facing off on the debate stage for the first time.
Rep. Elaine Luria, the two-term Democratic incumbent, is facing Republican challenger, State Sen. Jen Kiggans, at the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront. The Hampton Roads Chamber is hosting the debate.
13News Now will stream the debate live in the video player above, starting at 11 a.m. You can also watch the debate live on the 13NewsNow+ streaming app, which you can download for free on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
Follow along below for the latest updates from 13News Now's Preston Steger and Eugene Daniel on what Luria and Kiggans discuss and how the debate will play into the race in Virginia's 2nd District.
9:30 p.m. - Debate synopsis
Luria and Kiggans 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 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.
6:20 p.m. - Takeaways from the debate
Things became spirited as the candidates vying for the House seat in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District debated for the first time this election season.
Rep. Elaine Luria, the two-term Democratic incumbent and Republican challenger State Sen. Jen Kiggans sought to weave their campaign issues into the different topics that came up in the Virginia Beach debate.
The candidates challenged each other on their positions, and at times, painted their opponent as extreme. 13News Now looked at five takeaways from the debate.
1:58 p.m. - Luria's campaign declares victory, Kiggans claims 'liberal hypocrisy' exposed
Soon after the debate ended, Luria's campaign shared a news release claiming victory.
Luria tweeted: "After today’s debate, the choice to represent Coastal Virginia in Congress couldn’t be more clear. I will continue to be an independent voice in Congress and work across the aisle to deliver for the people of Hampton Roads."
On the other side, Kiggans' campaign said she "exposed Rep. Elaine Luria's liberal hypocrisy and failed record."
"I came here today to debate the issues - and Elaine Luria showed up with a bag of political stunts to distract from her atrocious record that is out of step with the voters of this district," Kiggans wrote in a news release.
1:28 p.m. - Closing remarks
Luria used her two-minute closing remarks to describe what kind of candidate she isn't. She prefaced it by saying her record should stand on its own.
Kiggans used her closing remarks to tout her military experience and attack Luria for "voting with" Nancy Pelosi most of the time, while she "campaigns as a moderate."
She also thanked the community for allowing her to serve in office and hoped that people would vote for her.
1:21 p.m. - Division in politics
When it comes to division in politics, Kiggans said Virginia and the country deserve better, suggesting the Democrats have been divisive.
Luria responded by criticizing the "bothside-ism" of Kiggans' remarks, saying Republican leaders don't believe the Jan. 6th, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was wrong. She concluded those remarks by calling Kiggans for being unfit for Congress.
Kiggans responded by addressing electoral integrity, equating Republican claims of fraud in the 2020 election with Democrats' issues with the 2016 election.
Luria responded by accusing Kiggans of being an election denier and never acknowledging Joe Biden's victory.
1:07 p.m. - Candidates on student loan debts
Luria used this opportunity to create some distance with President Biden, saying she wouldn't have approached student loan debt forgiveness as he did. She also said she's working with Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on a long-term solution.
Kiggans criticized Biden's decision, saying it is going to hurt taxpayers and make the effects of inflation even worse.
1 p.m. - China comes up
When it comes to the country's China policy, Kiggans said China is a high national security threat. She added that the U.S. should work on boosting domestic manufacturing to make the country less dependent on China.
Luria said the threat by China keeps her up at night and that she supports the CHIPS Act to boost domestic production of semiconductors. She also said the U.S. is "beyond" strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan.
Kiggans responded by criticizing the CHIPS Act for "giving money back to China" on "Green New Deal mandates." She also accused Luria of insider stock trading.
Luria responded by saying she opposes insider stock trading, saying there are laws requiring transparency. She also said she bought stocks when she was still in the Navy, before she started in Congress.
12:54 p.m. - Different views on immigration
Luria highlighted her support for increasing border security, including building barriers and using tech to stop illegal crossings. She also said she supports comprehensive immigration reform, saying it would help businesses find workers.
Kiggans said the country's borders "aren't secure" and that Luria hasn't criticized the Biden administration's border policies. She also talked about her visit to the border with fellow Republicans, describing it as a humanitarian crisis that Democrats aren't talking about.
12:48 p.m. - Debate moves to healthcare issues
Luria touted her support for legislation that allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices, while Kiggans pivoted back to inflation issues.
She once again criticized Luria for voting with Joe Biden most of the time.
12:37 p.m. - Luria, Kiggans on abortion
The moderator, Chris Saxman, said he didn't plan on the abortion issue coming up, but he asked the question.
Luria explained she supports codifying Roe v. Wade, the constitutional protection of abortion rights that the Supreme Court overturned earlier this year.
Kiggans accused Luria of lying about her position on abortion, saying she supports exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.
She continued by accusing Luria of supporting abortion without restrictions. She reiterated that she supports state-level action on the issue.
Luria accused Kiggans of not supporting contraceptives and added that she supports reasonable restrictions on abortion.
Kiggans responded by saying she does support contraceptives, shifting the topic to where Luria stands on abortion.
Saxman asked the candidates which restrictions on abortion they support.
Kiggans said she opposes abortion "up to nine months" and supports exceptions. Luria questioned Kiggans on if she would support Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's bill that would create a nationwide ban on abortion.
12:33 p.m. - Policies to address sea-level rise turns ugly
Kiggans expressed her support for Youngkin's plan to reevaluate energy plans every few years while acknowledging the issue of sea-level rise. She once again criticized the use of energy mandates.
Luria took the opportunity to change the subject to the abortion issue, saying Kiggans supports mandates on the abortion procedure.
Kiggans responded by saying she's a pro-life candidate and believes the issue should be discussed compassionately. She said she doesn't support a complete ban on it and supports exceptions.
Luria responded by saying Kiggans wants to restrict the right to choose for women.
12:25 p.m. - Atlantic Coast Pipeline loss or win for the region?
Luria touted her support for nuclear energy and offshore wind development, saying oil and natural gas aren't the only barriers to economic development in Hampton Roads.
She also noted security vulnerabilities in pipelines, citing the Colonial Pipeline shutdown in 2021.
Kiggans expressed her support for Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's energy plan, saying she's excited to see what happens with nuclear energy production in southwest Virginia.
She criticized Luria's support for energy mandates, comparing her policies to ones seen in California.
Luria responded by touting the bipartisan infrastructure package, which provides funding for electric vehicle charging stations.
12:19 p.m. - Addressing inflation
When asked about what steps she'd take to address inflation, Kiggans said lowering gas prices are the place to start, but she didn't give specifics on how to do so.
Luria answered the question by touting energy independence and taking on an "all-of-the-above" energy policy. She once again mentioned Vladimir Putin, suggesting his actions in Ukraine mean the U.S. should invest in other forms of energy production.
12:15 p.m. - Candidates talk fiscal issues
The question: What are your priorities to balance the protection of the country, but also be fiscally responsible? (paraphrase)
Luria said the Inflation Reduction Act helped pay down the deficit, will also claiming the Republican tax cut bill under Trump added to the deficit.
Luria attacked Republicans for proposing "the end of Social Security and Medicare" and tied Kiggans to Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House.
Kiggans said the country must stop wasteful spending. For Social Security, she said the benefits can't be touched for those receiving them.
12:09 p.m. - What is your top public policy to ensure Hampton Roads' prosperity?
Kiggans said the military budget could be "so much better" and that military workers are hurting right now.
"What I see is a weakened military, I see a budget that does not meet the needs of the Navy," Kiggans said.
She used the opportunity to attack Luria, claiming Luria hasn't gotten things done on the Armed Services Committee.
Luria said the offshore wind industry is an economic opportunity for Hampton Roads, touting the wind farm proposed off Virginia's coast.
Responding to Kiggans' claims, she said she helped get $62 billion added to the budget since the end of the Trump administration and worked on speeding up ship construction.
12 p.m. - Luria, Kiggans on COVID-19
Kiggans, when asked if the COVID-19 pandemic is over, said while people are still living with the virus, we've found ways to live with it. She used the issue to attack Luria's support of the American Rescue Plan, claiming it paid people to "stay at home" and not work.
Luria responded by defending programs aimed at helping businesses stay afloat during the pandemic, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
She said businesses, because of the public health emergency, needed to stay closed until a vaccine and a safe way for people to return to work, but the work she has done has kept businesses open.
Kiggans responded by, once again, laying the blame on Biden's policies and how Luria votes with him 99% of the time.
11:54 a.m. - Luria says Putin is responsible for economic problems
Luria defended her record on economic issues, saying prices are high because Russian President Vladimir Putin made them high.
Among things, she touted the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill to address supply chain backups and the Inflation Reduction Act for diversifying energy sources.
She accused Kiggans of not providing solutions to fix economic problems. She also claimed she supports hiring 87K new agents.
When it comes to scores, Luria gave the economy a 6 out of 10, while Kiggans gave it a 1 or "maybe a half."
11:48 a.m. - Kiggans slams health of the economy under Biden
Saxman asked Kiggans how she'd rate the health of the economy and what policies she'd support to help the economy.
Kiggans began her responses by sharing how she's talked to voters in the district who are experiencing economic woes, including gas prices, groceries and savings accounts.
She moved into criticizing 40-year-old inflation under President Joe Biden, saying Luria has voted with him 99% of the time. She also criticized the Inflation Reduction Act, claiming it was "name-only" and "a huge environmental bill."
"This November will be a referendum on the failed economic policies of the Joe Biden administration," Kiggans said.
While she took aim at the Democrats' economic record, she didn't provide policy specifics.
11:42 a.m. - Luria, Kiggans lay out their key issues
Kiggans touched upon economic, military issues, Republican victories in Virginia's 2021 elections and other issues in her opening statement, attacking Luria for voting with President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Luria touted her military experience and experience running a small business. She mentioned her committee assignments, including the House Armed Services Committee, and support for additional military spending.
11:33 a.m. - Ground rules for the debate
Chris Saxman, the executive director of Virginia FREE and former Virginia delegate, is moderating the debate.
He began the debate by introducing Luria and Kiggans and sharing some ground rules for the debate.
Kiggans was the first to give an opening statement since she won a coin toss before the debate.
11:20 a.m. - Luria, Kiggans tweet about debate issues
As we wait for the debate to begin, both Luria and Kiggans are tweeting about the issues they look forward to discussing.
"I look forward to highlighting my record of delivering for Coastal Virginians by expanding health care for veterans, securing billions in defense investments to stand up to China & cutting costs for working families in today’s debate," Luria wrote.
"I look forward to sharing my vision with Coastal Virginians on how I will work to restore American strength in our economy, at our borders, in our communities, and on the world stage," Kiggans wrote.
11:15 a.m. - Debate begins closer to 11:30
The debate at the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront will officially begin around 11:30 a.m., Hampton Roads Chamber President/CEO Bryan Stephens said.
After Stephens made a few remarks, a 10-minute break before the debate began.
> 'Liable to change hands': UVA political expert weighs in on House race between Elaine Luria, Jen Kiggans
What the candidates, parties are saying
13News Now reached out to Kiggans' campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia but had not received a reply at the time our live updates story was published.
Jayce Genco, spokesperson for Elaine Luria
“Congresswoman Luria will continue to highlight her record of delivering for Coastal Virginians by expanding health care for veterans, securing billions in defense investments to stand up to China, cutting costs for working families, and protecting a woman's right to choose."
Gianni Snidle, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Virginia
"This debate is an opportunity for Jen Kiggans to come clean and tell Coastal Virginians exactly how she will rip away the rights of women and criminalize reproductive health care by supporting a national abortion ban. After months of running from reporters and voters, Coastal Virginians will finally have a chance to see Kiggans for who she really is – a political opportunist and a threat to women's health and rights.”