If there is one campaign where we can feel confident of victory for Republicans in Virginia, it is most certainly in VA-02 where Democrats have floundered to mount any sort of resistance against Republican State Senator Jen Kiggans.
The campaign thus far has been flawless, with Kiggans’ incumbency being leveraged alongside a Republican generic ballot that is showing every indication of a 2010 tidal wave.
Christopher Newport’s Wason Center called the race a literal coin flip in mid-October, with both candidates locked at 45%.
Yet when we remove the Trump factor from the environment and add back in an ever-worsening national climate for Democrats, all indications point towards a Kiggans victory in a seat Youngkin carried by 11 points last year.
The secret? Not only has Luria focused oddly enough on January 6th allegations of a “coup” attempt during the
peaceful protests riot two years ago, but in a manner that is certainly shocking Democrats, the campaign seems more centered around the economy and the reaction to Critical Race Theory and gender ideology rather than Democratic talking points surrounding J6 and abortion.
From the RTD’s Jeff Schapiro, who is picking up on similar themes:
Kiggans attempts – Youngkin-like – to embrace 45 without seeming to do so. It’s made for some awkward on-camera moments, especially when Kiggans is pressed on who won the 2020 election. To win, she needs Trump loyalists. Kiggans needs, too, the support of voters inclined to the GOP but alienated by the former president.
A sign of the tightrope Kiggans’ walks: Her campaign last week brought in Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, who on 1/6 had to reconcile his loyalty to the defeated president with a greater loyalty to constitutional democracy by defying Trump’s demand that he block congressional validation of Biden’s election.
As in the Spanberger-Vega contest in the 7th District, the Luria-Kiggans race might be decided in surrounding areas where votes aren’t plentiful but are reliably Republican: rural counties.
Democrats continue to point to rural counties as the key to VA-02 in hopes that voter turnout will be depressed in those areas.
Republicans meanwhile remain optimistic but cautious, leaning on Youngkin’s impressive numbers combined with an even worsening national climate but taking no vote for granted.