Opinion | Virginia’s U.S. House elections are set

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Voters in Virginia headed to the polls in parts of the state on Tuesday to select congressional candidates for November’s general election. A few stories immediately emerged, setting up what should be real donnybrooks in the redesigned 2nd and 7th wards.

In the 2nd, Republicans tapped State Sen. Jen A. Kiggans (Virginia Beach) to challenge incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria (D). 2nd has been one of Virginia’s true swing neighborhoods over the years. Now he seems to favor Republicans, and Kiggans serves what the GOP craves: opposition to “radical transgender politics” and critical race theory and support for “election integrity.”

A potential flashpoint in this race: Luria sits on the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection on Capitol Hill. Luria did not shy away from this service and made it part of his re-election effort. Kiggans is in ‘see nothing, say nothing’ mode, discussing neither ex-President Donald Trump nor the January 6 horror show.

In the heavily redrawn 7th District, GOP voters chose the Trumpiest of all the candidates running: Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega (Coles).

Vega will face Democratic incumbent Abigail Spanberger, who has been busy running for voters in the reconfigured 7th while cashing in campaign money.

On paper, the 7 looks like a coin toss. But in Vega, the GOP picked a culture warrior who has no problem campaigning alongside Republican performance artists like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Virginia’s own Rep. Bob Good.

And don’t pitch Vega on the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. In response to a question from the Star-Exponent about the events of that day, Vega said she was not “going to perform in [the media] narrative.”

As with the race in the 2nd arrondissement, the 7th will tell us a lot about who really believes in the rule of law, constitutional principles, etc., and who is in this political game for the lulz.

Speaking of rule of law, I recently met with Loudoun County NAACP President Michelle Thomas about her decision to join the new lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2021 House of Delegates election.

Thomas said part of his reason for seeking to join the lawsuit was the issue of “capacity”.

“No matter how good or attuned you are to the district,” Thomas said, “there just aren’t enough hands for everyone. Needs will not be met.

Thomas House’s current ward of 29 has 50.8% more people than the least populated ward of 75, making it ‘facially unconstitutional’.

Another big driver for Thomas: the feeling that Virginia politicians chose personal convenience over seeking justice in this case.

“Justice is never a matter of convenience,” Thomas said.

Thomas said she “wants to remain hopeful” that the matter will be resolved quickly. “But after watching the masquerade and the circus of the past year, I doubt anyone in power is interested in fighting for justice. They prefer to do what is practical.

Perhaps Thomas and others can take heart from legal developments in Louisiana, where a federal judge is forcing the state legislature to redraw its congressional districts ahead of the November election. Local police are fighting the judge every step of the way – even asking the US Supreme Court for help.

Sounds a bit familiar. So do accusations by Louisiana politicians that forcing new districts on unsuspecting voters and ill-prepared candidates so late in the political calendar would lead to chaos in November.

Don’t buy the hype, especially when it comes to special elections in Virginia. Thomas’ court complaint contains a helpful reminder that the special election to replace Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones took less than a month from the Dec. 16 announcement of Jones’ resignation to Election Day Dec. 11. January.

And no one was inconvenienced.

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