PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s a political contest rooted in Hampton Roads, but it’s getting attention from power brokers across the nation — the race for Virginia’s Second Congressional District. It includes Virginia Beach, the Eastern Shore and stretches inland through part of Chesapeake, Suffolk, and on to Isle of Wight and Franklin.

State Sen. Jen Kiggans (R) is a Navy veteran helicopter pilot and nurse practitioner, challenging incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria (D). Kiggans says she’s hoping people in the Second District will vote with their pocketbooks. We also discussed student loan forgiveness, energy policy, the 2020 election and her stance on abortion.

“This coming November is going to be a referendum on the failed policies of the Biden administration,” Kiggans said, using a phrase she repeated several times during the interview. In her eyes, the biggest issue for Virginians in the Second District will be inflation.

“No matter who I talk to, or where I go, it’s the economy, economy, economy, those pocketbook issues. How much they’re paying at the gas pumps, how much they’re paying at the grocery stores.”

Kiggans sees the similarities between Luria, a retired Navy commander, and herself. “We’re both Navy veterans, we’re both moms,” Kiggans said, but adds that hers is a much more conservative voting record.

On energy policy, Kiggans says she would work on “finding domestic energy sources, talking about restart construction on the Keystone XL pipeline, incentivizing domestic energy production. I support nuclear power, I have voted for wind power in the past, but right now we’re driving cars with gasoline.”

We turned to the government’s response to COVID. Kiggans says keeping kids out of school and subsidy programs that were incentivizing people to stay home were the wrong approach.

“We’ve got to get back to motivating people to get back to work, keeping our kids in school.”

Kiggans says the CDC does have a role in setting protocols and guidelines.

“I’m a nurse practitioner, so I think we need to look at the science, that’s always what we should be focused on,” and she says the US needs to hold China accountable for the spread of the virus.

What about the Biden plan to forgive federal student loans, which is estimated to cost more than $300 billion over the next decade?

“I’m against federal student loan forgiveness,” Kiggans said. “You get a loan with an understanding of loan repayment – any time you get any loan, an auto loan, a house loan – why are college loans any different?”

And then it was the topic that led to the January 6 riot — the 2020 election of Joe Biden as president. Does Kiggans believe it was legitimate?

“My statement on Joe Biden is that he lives in the White House and I wish he didn’t, and I will say that every day.”

Another major issue that divided the nation: the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

“I’m a pro-life candidate. I always have been,” Kiggans said. However she does allow for exceptions “for rape, incest, and life of the mother, and that is something that I have been consistent with.”

Kiggans says her motivation to get into politics was her frustration with the political status quo — to the point she would yell back at the TV when she watched the news.