GOP nominee in VA-08 Karina Lipsman wants to focus on public safety, the economy, education, and mental health. Lipsman is battling Representative Don Beyer (D-VA-08) in a deep-blue district, and was nominated at the end of May in a ranked-choice convention.

“We live in Northern Virginia. We don’t live in, you know, Chicago or Baltimore. It’s unacceptable how crime is affecting our daily lives,” Lipsman told The Virginia Star.

“The soft-on-crime policies need to end and we need to really start investing in our law enforcement and make sure that they have the resources they need in order to keep our communities safe,” she said.

She said that fewer people want to work in law enforcement, and there’s a need to incentivize those that want to work in the field to stay.

Lipsman highlighted high inflation, rising gas prices, and rising taxes.

“Right now the government just continues to tax and tax and tax, without any real way of controlling our spending. We also need to have manufacturing here in the U.S.,” she said, calling for a “Made in America” agenda with incentives to keep jobs in the country.

She called for energy independence with expedited drilling permits.

Lipsman is a school choice advocate.

“It’s having the federal dollars and their allocation go towards, or follow, the student, versus going to the school system,” she said. “It should be up to the parents to choose what school systems are best for them.”

Lipsman listed the country’s problems with homelessness, mental issues among incarcerated people, teen suicides, and mass shootings.

“All of that should be addressed by way of making sure that we’re providing the resources needed to address mental health, through counseling, through other resources, whatever they are,” she said. “And diagnosing a person early on, so that they don’t cause harm to themselves or others.”

From Refugee to the Defense Industry

Lipsman and her mother and grandparents were Ukrainian refugees to the U.S. when she was 8.

“I was there when it was still under the Soviet regime. So I’ve experienced what real socialism feels like and looks like,” she said.

“We settled in Baltimore City, none of us spoke English. My mother was a seamstress, and she worked during the day and attended community college in the evening to learn English and also advance her career, to pursue a career in bookkeeping,” Lipsman said.

She said her first day attending Baltimore public schools without understanding English, she watched the students say the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I didn’t understand a single word that they were saying, and, you know, it was powerful,” Lipsman said.

She became a U.S. citizen at age 18, studied economics and engineering, and worked in defense intelligence for 14 years. She resigned to pursue a congressional campaign.

Ukraine, International Policy, and Immigration

The Virginia Star asked Lipsman what stance the U.S. should have on Ukraine and international policy in general.

“We need to have a much stronger presence on the global stage. And the reason why Ukraine and Afghanistan happened is because of failed foreign policy leadership under the current administration, and so we need to get back to being that strong global presence that everyone looks to,” she said.

She said the U.S. needs to start at home, focusing on inflation, gas prices, the border crisis, and crime.

Recently, the U.S. sent a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine. The Star asked if she’d support another package.

She said, “I support aid, but with the caveat of, there needs to be transparency and accountability of what exactly is in that $40 billion? Is that $40 billion really going to aid, or is it going to something else?”

“I am a U.S. citizen. I live here. This is my country,” she said.

Given her background, The Star asked Lipsman about her immigration policy.

She said, “A lot of times the conversation is around who comes in and out of the country. And the reality is, we should be focusing on a clear path to legal citizenship.”

She explained, “What I’ve seen, especially my mother dealing with, is how do you identify what schools that your child goes to? How do you get a driver’s license? How do you – you know, the things that we take for granted on a regular basis, immigrants who come to this country who have no clue how America works don’t have that, I’ll call it ‘checklist.’”

“And I think the better that we can serve the first generation, the more ROI [return on investment] we get with the next generation and the generation after that, because people come to this country for the opportunities,” she said.

GOP Candidate in a Democratic District

Nationally, Republicans expect to perform well in the congressional midterms. Virginia Republicans see a good opportunity to flip up to three currently Democrat seats, but VA-08 isn’t on the list.

Virginia’s 8th Congressional District has consistently voted Democratic in recent elections by strong margins. In 2021, gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe lost the election in Virginia but won in VA-08 with 72.2 percent of the vote, according to estimates by the Virginia Public Access Project.

Lipsman knows the race is an uphill battle.

“I think people are ready for change. And we have the momentum from Governor Youngkin’s win last year. We have the failed leadership both from a federal and a state perspective. And we have a real opportunity here, flip a D-plus 20-something district, because Youngkin made it okay to vote Republican. The independents and the conservative Democrats have seen what’s happened with our failed leadership, and so they’re looking for other options,” she said.

“And also, over the last 10 years that I’ve lived in this district, it no longer looks like Don Beyer,” she said. “So right now the district is almost 50 percent, about 47 percent, immigrant and minority. And having lived the American dream and being able to resonate with their struggles and life paths, I think I can be that messenger for them that truly understands what it’s like to live and be part of the underprivileged community where you’re just being neglected by politicians.”

This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.