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State Sen. Kiggans announces run for Luria's congressional seat
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State Sen. Kiggans announces run for Luria's congressional seat

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Sen. Jen Kiggans spoke Jan. 28 at the Senate Education and Health Committee about staffing ratios at long-term care facilities.

State Sen. Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, a geriatric nurse practitioner and former Navy helicopter pilot, announced Monday that she is running for Congress next year, seeking to take on Rep. Elaine Luria, D-2nd.

Kiggans, a member of the Senate since 2020, says in her announcement video that in the Senate, she has “had a front-row seat to the danger and insanity of one-party, progressive political rule.” She asserts that “now the same thing is happening to our country.”

If Kiggans secures the GOP nomination, two Navy veterans will again vie in one of Virginia’s most competitive U.S. House districts. The 2nd District, based in Virginia Beach, has a strong military presence and shipbuilding industry. The district includes Williamsburg and parts of Norfolk and Hampton, plus York, Accomack and Northampton counties.

Luria, first elected in 2018, is a retired Navy officer who served for two decades and attained the rank of commander. The vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Luria is calling for an increase in the defense budget and said on Twitter on Monday: “We must invest in our local workforce and shipyards to promote our #VA02’s vital role in securing America.”

Luria and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, won in competitive districts in 2018 and were re-elected in 2020 while stressing their national security credentials. Kiggans’ campaign video features footage of a Navy helicopter and images of her wearing a flight jacket and jogging while wearing a Navy T-shirt.

Luria unseated Rep. Scott Taylor, R-2nd, in 2018 and beat him again in a 2020 rematch. Luria won the 2018 contest by fewer than 3 percentage points. She beat Taylor by nearly 6 points in 2020.

Kiggans was elected to the Virginia Senate in 2019. She defeated Democratic Del. Cheryl Turpin by just over 500 votes — less than a percentage point — to win the seat formerly held by retiring Sen. Frank Wagner, a Republican. In the legislature, she has urged minimum staffing standards for nursing homes. Members of the closely divided state Senate are not up for election until 2023.

In her announcement video, Kiggans urges “all normal people with the courage to fight” to “forget about politics” and join her effort.

In a statement, the Democratic Party of Virginia faults Kiggans for, among other things, praising President Donald Trump during her 2019 campaign, declining to cast a vote when the state Senate censured Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, and for voting against the state budget and a number of election bills that Democrats sponsored.

“Jen Kiggans hasn’t even finished her first term in the Senate and she’s already asking for a promotion,” said Grant Fox, communications director of the Democratic Party of Virginia. “But after voting against pay raises for teachers, siding with radical conspiracy theorists in her party, and praising Donald Trump, her far-right record is a nonstarter for Virginians.”

Kiggans has a degree in international relations from Boston University, a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Old Dominion University and a master of science in nursing from Vanderbilt University.

She and her husband, Steve Kiggans, a former Navy fighter pilot, have four children.

acain@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6645

Twitter: @AndrewCainRTD

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