VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — It is being called one of the most closely-watched races in the country for the midterm elections.
Incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria (D, VA-02), who serves as vice-chair of the House Armed Services Committee, has pushed for increased shipbuilding during her four years in office. And this year she fought for veterans with the passage of the PACT Act.
Additionally, she has been in the national spotlight because of her work on the January 6th committee.
"If I weren't to get re-elected because of my work on this committee, I would sleep just fine at night," said Luria. "I think it's incredibly important to be on the right side of history to get to the bottom of the facts and make sure that people understand what happened that day and how dangerous it is moving forward."
State Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) has criticized Luria over the incumbent's voting record.
"What's on the ballot this year is Joe Biden and all of his disastrous economic policies that have put us again in a place of weakness," she said. "So this is what's going to drive the guy that's in the White House right now, his policies Elaine Luria has voted for. She has voted with Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden 98% of the time."
Things got heated between the two candidates in their first debate, before the Hampton Roads Chamber.
Luria said Kiggans is "an election denier" and "she is not fit to serve in the United States Congress."
Kiggans responded: "First of all, shame on you for attacking my character as a fellow female Naval officer."
Luria is a retired Navy commander and Naval Academy graduate while Kiggans was a Navy helicopter pilot.
Virginia's 2nd District was re-drawn this year, removing the reliably blue precincts of Norfolk.
Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has rated the race as a "toss-up."
"The new Second is constructed really as almost a 'Lean Republican' district,'" said Sabato, who is a University of Virginia political science professor.
He said recent U.S history suggests there could be a flip of the seat.
"Since World War II, we've had 19 midterm elections. In 17 of the 19, the party not in power in the White House has gained seats," he said.
But, will it happen this time in the Second? Sabato is not sure.
"I think it will be close," he said. " It could be one or the two or three best representative races in the country. The way the 2nd goes may very well predict how the entire House of Representatives goes."
Sabato continued: "It's very likely that the Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives. That's not to say Luria is destined to lose. She's run a good campaign. She might be able to eke it out."
As for Luria's participation on the January 6th Commission studying the 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol led by a mob of supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, Sabato said Luria deserves credit for serving on the panel.
"She can be a 'Profile in Courage' if she loses and sticks to her principles and says the truth," he said. "And the truth s the 2020 election was not stolen at all. So, I admire her for doing it. She may be an ex-Congresswoman though, because she has been truthful."
The candidates will meet in a second debate next Monday, October 17, at 7 p.m. at the Smithfield Center, at 220 N Church St, Smithfield. The event is hosted by the Isle of Wight Citizens Association, Carrollton Civic League, Isle of Wight NAACP and the Central/Southern Citizens Group.