Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) and challenger Virginia Senator Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) faced off in a Wednesday debate hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. While many of the debate questions were more business-focused, the two candidates took repeated swings at their opponents’ weak points. Kiggans attacked Luria for aligning with Democrats and cited the economic impacts of their policy, and Luria warned that Kiggans, if elected, would take a hard line on abortion and other reproductive issues.
The moderator asked Luria how she felt about the end of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and what the district should expect from Luria on energy. She responded by emphasizing the importance of nuclear power and added, “What they can expect from me: offshore wind development. You know, we’re not going to wake up tomorrow and stop using oil and natural gas. Of course we need adequate transmission of oil and natural gas to support our industry in the area.”
She said the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill would help improve infrastructure like the electrical grid, and noted that there’s a need for more cybersecurity work to be done, citing her position on the Homeland Security Committee.
Kiggans said she supports Governor Glenn Youngkin’s call for an all-of-the-above approach.
She said, “My opponent continues to support energy mandates. And you look at things like the Inflation Reduction Act, and she actually stood on a stage and said, ‘Well, that’s just the name of that bill, only, it’s really a huge environmental bill.’ Thus, making all of the country look like places like California.
Kiggans criticized law that links Virginia energy policy to California, citing energy shortages in that state.
Luria replied, “If you don’t want Virginia to become like California for clean energy, you certainly want Virginia to become like Texas for a lack of access to reproductive health care.”
The moderator followed up with a question about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program where utilities bid on carbon allowances, and proceeds go to help address flooding like that experienced in the Hampton Roads area. Youngkin’s administration is advancing regulation to remove Virginia from RGGI.
Kiggans said there’s room for improvement to address the region’s antiquated drain system and improve infrastructure, and said some state and federal funds were already going to those projects.
“But the problem I have is with government involvement and government mandates for things like, again, for our clean energy policies, you know. That’s where I think that we really need to take a step back. And that’s why I think there’s a big difference between Democrats and Republicans right now. And Democrats are very interested in mandates and letting the government tell you how to run your life and things. My opponent supports those mandates, again, voting with Nancy Pelosi 99 percent of the time for a lot these clean energy mandates.”
Luria cited federal funding for a flood wall project in Norfolk, and then quoted Kiggans’ statement criticizing mandates.
“She clearly wants to tell you how to live your life if you’re a woman who’s dying because of a complicated pregnancy. She certainly wants to tell you that if you’re a 10-year-old who’s a rape or incest victim and can’t get an abortion here in Virginia. So I just think it’s ironic that she can say that about energy policy,” Luria said.
Kiggans said she’s a pro-life candidate who supports exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
“I know we came here to try to talk about business issues, but my opponent can’t because she has nothing that the Democrats will offer for solutions for this,” Kiggans said.
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