Truth Tracker: Virginia Beach 7th District State Senate Race

Local Politics

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – There is a powerful political fight taking place for the Virginia Beach 7th District State Senate Seat.

That seat was represented by former State Senator Frank Wagner since he won in 2001. He had also served in the House of Delegates since 1991.

On May 3, Wagner was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to serve as the Deputy Director of the Virginia Lottery.  He then retired, leaving behind what has become one of the most closely watched political races this election season.  

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are pouring into the race for television ads.

Current Democratic Delegate Cheryl Turpin , who represents the 85th House District until January, is running against Republican nurse practitioner Jennifer Kiggans.

Their campaign commercials are the focus of the first 10 On Your Side “Truth Tracking” reports leading up to the November 5 race.

Turpin’s ad touts how she helped “expand Medicaid for 400,000 veterans and working families.”

Kiggan’s ad introduces how she “fights for her patients,” which lays out the issue of health care.

10 On Your Side’s Andy Fox showed Kiggans the ad now running against her, “There I am, gray lightning,” she jokes.

Kiggans emphasizes she is a nurse practitioner for older people. Turpin’s ad says, “Republican politician Jen Kiggans has received over $200,000 from special interests that want to roll back Medicaid expansion.”

Kiggans said she does not want to roll back Medicaid expansion. “No, I do not … and I wish I knew who those special interests were. I’ve never been in politics before,” Kiggans said.

The truth tracker says that is true. Kiggans is getting campaign funds from giant national organizations who take contributions from all different types of special interest groups: health care, insurance, car industry, etc.  

Kiggans says she is opposed to Obamacare, but she appears not to be opposed to expanding Medicaid. She said, “Medicaid expansion is here to stay. It has been voted on; it is not something I am here to take away. I recognize the benefit of providing health care … to all Virginians.”  

Kiggans added, “Let me tell you about primary care, and how much money we can save in cost savings for health if we provide good quality preventive and primary care for the people who need it most: the low income people of Virginia. I want my patients to have health care. I can’t emphasize that enough. If we can provide good quality preventative care then we can prevent unnecessary health costs in the future.”

Kiggans’ ad blasts Turpin.

“But politician Cheryl Turpin has her own agenda. Supporting efforts to hide her out-of-state donors.”  

The statement refers to House Bill 1929 Campaign finance; disclosure of all contributors.  

Ironically, that legislative bill, which died in a Republican Senate Committee (Turpin is a Democrat), would force the reporting of all donations less than $100.

“She is nit picky. I think she is playing to corporate, grassroots donors that would give me $25 instead of those over $100,000,” Turpin said.

That strategy of small contributions under $100 is evident.  Turpin has over 2,332 of them totaling almost $45,849.  Kiggans has only 126 for $7,661.

Turpin’s ad continues against Kiggans that she would, “Kick people with their pre-existing conditions off their health insurance.” That appears false. There is no evidence Kiggans supports that, and she’s never been in public office to cast a vote supporting that.  

“I have never said that in my life,” she says with a laugh. “The geriatric population I serve all have pre-existing conditions. Those are my people.”

It is true Turpin’s ad is impacting Kiggan’s medical practice, “Not only does it hurt, it hurts my patients’ care. I walk into a room, and they say ‘oh are you here to take my health care?’ No I am not,” Kiggans emphasizes.

Kiggans’ commercial claims Turpin wants to hike your bills. This claim refers to HB 1270 in the 2018 Session, dealing with Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiatives; prohibition on participation by Commonwealth.  

The Kiggans ad claims:

“New tax to raise our energy bills … Turpin voted ‘nay’ to pass house bill 1270…to “prohibit the Governor or any state agency…from establishing” regulations on companies that put out too much carbon dioxide.”

It is true that Turpin did vote to let the governor cap emissions, but that doesn’t mean that would necessarily raise energy bills. “The fact we deny the governor the ability to do that, to enter into that agreement, of course, I voted against it. We should have the ability to do it,” Turpin said.

On June 11, Kiggans surprisingly won the Republican primary to run. That is not lost on Turpin, who acknowledged Kiggans needs to be taken seriously.

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