RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Republican sweep of Virginia in the 2021 statewide election — particularly a victory for Gov. Glenn Youngkin — appears to be one of the country’s two worst races. A competitive U.S. House race has energized the Republican field.
The crowded Republican congressional primaries in Virginia’s 2nd and 7th districts on Tuesday will decide who faces centrist Democrats Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberg in the November election (Abigail Spanberger), which in turn could help determine which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives.
Virginia Republicans love their chance. With the party’s revival last fall, the redistricting process of redrawing Virginia’s congressional map and the state’s political environment, seen as extremely unfavorable to the ruling party, were also seen as contributing factors to the intense Republican race for the seat.
“The climate is so bad for Democrats. I mean, it’s probably the worst since 2010, maybe even worse. Republicans feel very empowered,” said John Wye, a former Republican chairman of Virginia Turbeck said.
Virginia’s unusual 2021 statewide election is closely watched, an early sign of what this year’s midterm elections could herald. In addition to toppling all three statewide offices, Republicans have taken control of the state legislature, energizing Republicans in the state after nearly a decade of tragic losses.
By contrast, when Whitbaker left office in 2018, the Republican Party had 14 candidates in four nomination contests. This year, the party has 37 candidates competing in eight districts.
Republicans choose to tackle several other nomination races — including 11 way battle Run for a Democratic-leaning Northern Virginia district — in the run-up to the party in May.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report will keep a close eye on the elections in Districts 2 and 7, both of which are considered a loss.
In the coastal 2nd district, which includes Virginia Beach, the state’s most populous city, four candidates are seeking the Republican nomination against Luria.
a retired naval commander cultivated congressional identity A centrist, Luria served on the Jan. 6 committee investigating the 2021 Capitol attack. Luria flipped the region below its previous competitive boundary in 2018. Under the new border, Youngkin won the district by more than 11 points, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.
Her four potential opponents are also veterans. They include Virginia Beach tattoo parlor owner Tommy Altman; Andy Baan, a former prosecutor who retired from the Navy; and Jarrom Bell, a retired Navy chief noncommissioned officer who calls himself a “MAGA candidate.” . The trio appear to face an uphill battle against state Sen. Jen Kiggans, a nurse practitioner and Navy veteran who has served in the state legislature since 2020 and has a huge fundraising lead, plus congressional leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to electing House Republicans.
In the fully rebooted 7th Congressional District, which moved from suburban Richmond to now cover a stretch between Charlottesville and suburban Washington, the Republican nomination battle against Spanberg appears more open. Spanberg, a former CIA official who also toppled a contested seat held by Republicans in 2018, is now running along lines that Yankin could have won, according to an analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project.
Bryce Reeves, who has served in the state legislature since 2012, previously ran for statewide office where he gained a lot of visibility. He faces a challenge from Derrick Anderson, a former Green Beret who is nearly keeping pace with fundraising, and Yesli Vega He is a local elected official with law enforcement experience and high profile support. Also taking part in the competition are Crystal Vanuch and David Ross, who serve on the local supervisory board, and Gina Ciarcia, an educator who lags behind in fundraising.
Republican candidates have spent months running to the right, said Monica Robinson, spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“The only thing these candidates have shown is that they’re too extreme to run a general election against the two most powerful women in Congress,” she said.
Jimmy Frost, 57, a salesman active in Virginia Beach’s Republican politics, said he thinks the country’s problems — which he blames on Democrats — help nourish a Long list of Republican candidates.
Frost, who said he supported Bell because he thought he would tell voters the “naked truth,” said Luria should be prepared to face angry voters.
“Their kids can’t find (infant) formula for their grandchildren. They can’t afford gas to get their kids where they need to go. They don’t know how much it will cost to go to the grocery store today or next week. They don’t know the interest rates. What would be done. There were a lot of people walking around, ‘Oh my God, what’s next?'” he said.
Without a major challenge of their own, Spanberg and Luria would almost certainly start the election season with a huge fundraising lead. Luria reported nearly $3.4 million in cash on hand on June 1; Spanberg reported $4.3 million.
Youngkin did not endorse either race, nor did Trump, whose false claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election continued to permeate both primaries.
Bell has called for the execution of anyone involved in what he claims is widespread fraud. Keegan declined to say in a recent interview with The New York Times whether she believed President Joe Biden had won. Aside from Bell, none of the candidates responded to Virginia Public Media’s inquiries about whether they would vote to certify the 2020 results (he said he would not).
In May, the Virginia Democrats released a video highlighting each of the candidates for the 7th District, but Vanucci was asked about the violent Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — which everyone refused to call an uprising.
Tom Davis, a former U.S. congressman from northern Virginia who supports Vega, said he doubts the Jan. 6 message will resonate with voters in the general election facing voters. historical inflation and plummeting stock market.
“I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. I’m just saying that voters don’t seem interested in it,” he said.
Associated Press writer Ben Finley contributed to this report from Norfolk.