Congressional sofa journey

Rep.-elect Jen Kiggans spent years yelling at politicians on the TV from her sofa, lamenting that elected officers couldn’t come collectively to get issues accomplished.

As a army veteran and nurse practitioner in coastal southeastern Virginia, Kiggans was used to engaged on a crew and discovering compromises to perform duties. So, in 2019, when a state senator, a 27-year veteran of Virginia’s legislature, introduced he would retire, Kiggans jumped on the alternative to run within the seventh state Senate District within the Hampton Roads metropolitan space that features a lot of Virginia Seaside and a small a part of Norfolk.

Kiggans gained a aggressive Republican major and finally captured the seat by edging out her Democratic rival, a sitting state delegate, 50.4% to 49.5%. Three years later, Kiggans’s political abilities and acumen have been on show once more when she gained the suburban Hampton Roads 2nd Congressional District by beating Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria.


Kiggans arrives in Congress as a seasoned legislator who has labored with Democratic and Republican governors, with each the state’s Home of Delegates and the state Senate carefully divided. It was a political microcosm of types of the scenario in Washington. Kiggans joins an incoming Home Republican majority that may have solely a 222-213 edge over the Democrats. In the meantime, Democrats will proceed to carry the Senate majority, and simply down Pennsylvania Avenue, President Joe Biden is within the White Home.

It is all a far cry from Kiggans’s days as a political newcomer in that state Senate race when she was studying the logistics of operating for workplace.

“I actually simply Googled, ‘How you can get on a poll?” Kiggans stated with fun throughout the Home freshman orientation on Capitol Hill simply weeks forward of taking workplace on Jan. 3, 2023.

“You have to get all these signatures and lift all this cash and knock on a bunch of doorways — so we did that,” Kiggans instructed the Washington Examiner. “We actually simply actually received off the sofa and began door-knocking our neighbors and folks within the carpool line and folks at church and our naval aviation household and all of our networks. And we gained.”

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When Kiggans was sworn into workplace as a state senator in 2020, she was coming into on the heels of the 2018 blue wave halfway by President Donald Trump’s time period in workplace. That put Democrats accountable for each chambers of Virginia’s legislature, in addition to the governor’s mansion. In Richmond, she spent the subsequent two years as a part of the minority celebration, typically watching GOP-led proposals fail to make their means by the Home of Delegates.

However then Republicans made large good points in 2021, with the victory of GOP gubernatorial nominee and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin. On the identical time, Republican Winsome Sears gained Virginia’s lieutenant governorship, and GOP lawyer normal nominee Jason Miyares was additionally victorious. Republicans additionally flipped management of the Home of Delegates, taking over a 52-48 lead over Democrats. The state Senate remained in Democratic palms, however by the narrowest potential margin, 21-19.

That momentum impressed Kiggans to pursue increased workplace, launching a bid to unseat Luria in a newly drawn district the place, in 2020, Biden would have overwhelmed Trump 50.1% to 48.2%. And Luria, a retired naval officer elected to the Home in 2018, had develop into a nationwide determine of types as a member of the Home Jan. 6 committee, investigating efforts by Trump and supporters to overturn his 2020 loss.

“We nonetheless had one-party rule the place we had a Democrat-controlled Home and Senate, a Democrat within the White Home,” Kiggans stated. “I knew how harmful it was, how unvoiced I felt. So I needed to be part of that effort to flip the U.S. Home and to have the ability to steadiness the facility right here in D.C.”

The race turned one of the vital high-profile toss-up elections throughout the 2022 midterm cycle, that includes two feminine Navy veterans in a district with a big army presence, together with a number of lively bases.

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Kiggans is deeply linked to the army, serving as a Navy pilot for 10 years earlier than marrying her husband, who can also be a Navy veteran. She additionally grew up with a father and a grandfather who served within the army.

In the end, the race got here right down to the problems, Kiggans stated.

“Once you take a look at why sure races have been profitable and why others weren’t, we have been actually targeted on the problems that have been vital to individuals within the 2nd District, and we beat that drum on daily basis,” she stated. “I received up [and] I talked in regards to the financial system, talked in regards to the border disaster, talked about our communities that have been unsafe and the way we have to help our regulation enforcement higher, and [how to] get dad and mom concerned of their youngsters’ colleges. We talked in regards to the army. These are the issues that resonated with the voters of the 2nd District.”

In the meantime, Kiggans argued, her opponent Luria was too targeted on matters that have been thought of overtly political, isolating voters.

“I ran towards an opponent who sat on the Jan. 6 committee and who — she had a one-issue marketing campaign that we noticed quite a bit throughout the nation with the Democrats solely specializing in abortion,” Kiggans stated. “I do know that is a difficulty, however there have been so many different points this cycle.”

On Nov. 8, Kiggans beat Luria about 51.7% to 48.3%. That made Kiggans one among 9 incoming Home members to beat an incumbent within the normal election.

Wanting forward, Kiggans hopes to proceed her advocacy efforts and concentrate on the army, eyeing a spot on the Home Armed Providers Committee. The Virginia congresswoman-elect would additionally get pleasure from a spot on the Home Appropriations Committee, in search of methods to extend federal funding for the army and veterans’ healthcare.

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