By Ron Kampeas
Rep. Elaine Luria, a moderate Democrat who cites her Jewishness and saw her profile grow as a member of the House committee overseeing the investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, lost her bid for reelection in a Virginia swing district.
Luria, a former Navy commander, lost Tuesday in a close race to Jen Kiggans, a former Navy helicopter pilot. Virginia’s 2nd District, along its central coast, is home to a massive Navy base and has a substantial population of veterans. Redistricting made the district slightly more Republican.
Luria was elected in 2018 in the anti-Trump wave of Democratic women who helped return Congress to Democratic control. She became one of the Democrats most closely identified with the mainstream pro-Israel lobby and was outspoken in calling out fellow Democrats whose Israel criticism she said crossed into antisemitism.
She was a cautious defense hawk in a district where some saw former President Donald Trump as a hero. She kept a low profile in the increasingly polarized environment that engulfed Washington as Trump antagonized rivals, liberals, Democrats, and minorities.
But Luria made national headlines as one of five women Democrats who had served in the defense and intelligence communities who in the late summer of 2019 changed their minds to support impeaching Trump — a shift that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took as permission to launch impeachment proceedings. The five representatives said Trump’s attempt to blackmail Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden was a violation of the constitution.
The five women, all in swing districts, earned a nickname as the “badass caucus.”
Luria, who attends a Reform synagogue, got flack in her district for joining in the prosecution of Trump, but she did not back down and eventually joined the committee investigating his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. She made her case against Trump in an ad in which she held up a weathered Hebrew bible.