From staff and JNS reports
Elaine Luria, who grew up in Birmingham’s Jewish community, lost her bid for re-election in Virginia’s second Congressional district, after the district was redrawn to make it much more Republican.
In conceding the race, she said “We set out to be good and do good work in 2018, and that is precisely what we have done.”
State Sen. Jan Kiggans defeated Luria with 52 percent to 48 percent in a race that Jewish organizations took for granted early on in the campaign.
“It has been the honor of my life to represent and serve the people of Hampton Roads in Congress,” Luria said. “Though the results were not what we wanted, I want to thank everyone for their support over the past four years.”
“While nationally Democrats held back the red wave, Congresswoman Luria — a true pro-Israel champion — had the misfortune of running in a tough district, made more Republican by redistricting, in a difficult year,” DMFI PAC chairman Mark Mellman said in an email.
Both candidates are U.S. Navy veterans and strongly support Israel. In her two terms, Luria emerged as a leader in pro-Israel legislation initiatives in Congress and was endorsed by pro-Israel groups such as AIPAC PAC, Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) PAC and Pro-Israel America PAC. Campaign donations from pro-Israel groups were the second-largest sector, behind retirees, that contributed to Luria.
Luria also gained attention for being an active member of the Jan. 6 Commission investigating the violence at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.
Endorsements from pro-Israel groups came as a result of the “friendly incumbent rule” that bipartisan PACs follow, meaning that if both candidates are equally good on Israel, the incumbent will receive the endorsement as long as his or her term in office was sufficiently pro-Israel.
Kiggans’s pro-Israel credentials were not in question and she was endorsed by the Republican Jewish Coalition. In an interview with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), Kiggans said that she would fight anti-Semitism, work to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and oppose BDS.
In 2019, Luria’s first remarks from the House floor were a response to dual loyalty charges leveled by Rep. Ilhan Omar against supporters of Israel. Luria expressed shock that this would have to be the topic of her first Congressional remarks, and recounted her lengthy service in the U.S. Navy, asking what more did she have to prove.
Luria was seen as one of the most bipartisan representatives in Congress. During the campaign, she highlighted working across the aisle, and pointed out such things as Kiggans’ strict opposition to abortion, reluctance to say whether Biden actually won in 2020, and habit of ducking the media.
Luria told her supporters that with the continuing threats from China and the prospect of Trump trying to return in 2024, there is still a lot of work to be done, and though she had served in the Navy for 20 years and Congress for four, “I’m just getting started.”
The 2nd Congressional District includes Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Accomack, Northampton, Southampton and Franklin.