VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — State senator and Navy veteran Jen Kiggans won the Republican nomination Tuesday in Virginia’s coastal 2nd Congressional District.
View the live election results here.
Kiggans, 51, a nurse practitioner, will go on to face incumbent Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in what’s expected to be a competitive general election contest that could help determine which party controls the U.S. House.
The Associated Press called the race for Kiggans within an hour of the polls closing. In unofficial results, she snagged nearly 56% of the vote. Provisional ballots and mail-in ballots yet to be counted are not likely to make much of a difference.
The freshman state senator was considered the favorite in the race and defeated three opponents. Far-right Jarome Bell, who called himself the “MAGA candidate” and had called for executing anyone involved in what he claimed was widespread voter fraud, came in second with 27% of the vote. Tattoo artist Tommy Altman came in third with 14% and Andy Baan finished with 3%.
Baan was in the crowd congratulating Kiggans as she read from a prepared speech at Kelly’s Tavern Hilltop in Virginia Beach Tuesday night.
“For those who voted for me today, I am honored and grateful for your support,” Kiggans said. “To those who voted for another candidate, I look forward to earning your support.”
A majority of the speech doubled down on Republican talking points ahead of the 2022 midterms. She characterized her victory as “the begging of the end” of the Democrat’s House majority and the first step to “firing” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).
While her primary campaign often perseverated on themes discussed heavily by the further right Republican base such as election security, now Kiggan’s signaled she is turning her focus to a more moderate electorate.
The 2nd District has been redrawn and favors Republicans 2.8 points more than it previously did, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Still, most political analysts consider it a swing district.
“I’m Jen Kiggans running this district, my campaign for the people of the 2nd District, so we are going to keep it focused on the voters, we are going to keep it focused on the things they care about, which again right now is their pocketbooks, they are hurting at the gas pump, they are hurting with grocery prices, they are hurting with just trying to pay their bills,” Kiggans said.
Kiggans will be the first woman to hold the Republican nomination since former Congresswoman Thelma Drake last had it in 2008.
For Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District, Terry Namkung won over fellow candidate Ted Engquist on Tuesday evening. He will face longtime Democrat incumbent Bobby Scott in the general election.
Voters also were picking a Republican nominee Tuesday for Virginia’s competitive 7th Congressional District, which is currently represented by Rep. Abigail Spanberger. Yesli Vega, an auxiliary deputy and Prince William County supervisor, won in the field of six candidates.
Turnout across the state was low. In Virginia Beach roughly only 8% of registered voters cast a ballot.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.