RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A GOP sweep of Virginia’s 2021 statewide elections — and particularly Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s win — appears to have energized the Republican field in two of the country’s most competitive U.S. House races.

Tuesday’s crowded Republican congressional primaries in Virginia’s 2nd and 7th districts will settle who takes on centrist Democrats Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger in November’s general elections, which in turn could help determine which party controls the U.S. House.

Virginia Republicans like their chances. Along with the party’s resurgence last fall, a redistricting process that refashioned Virginia’s congressional maps and a national political environment viewed as highly unfavorable to the party in power are also seen as factors that have led to vigorous GOP competition for the seats.

“The climate is so god-awful for Democrats. I mean, it’s the worst maybe since 2010, maybe even worse. Republicans feel very emboldened,” said John Whitbeck, a former Republican Party of Virginia chairman.

Virginia’s unusual off-year 2021 statewide elections were closely watched as an early indication of what this year’s midterms could portend. Along with flipping all three statewide offices, Republicans also took control of the state House, animating the state’s Republicans after a nearly decadelong stretch of stinging losses.

The election today will determine who will face incumbent Representative Elaine Luria in November.

In Virginia’s 2nd District, state Sen. Jen A. Kiggans of Virginia Beach,  seems to be a leading candidate.  Her profile as a Navy veteran and geriatric nurse practitioner help her in the district which is heavily military.

Republicans have long viewed Kiggans as the presumed front-runner in the Virginia Beach-anchored, military-heavy 2nd District represented by Elaine Luria, a 25-year Navy veteran who retired as a commander, and member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Kiggans is taking on three opponents, including Jarome Bell, a far-right Navy veteran angling for the Trump base; Tommy Altman, an Air Force veteran and tattoo shop owner; and Andy Baan, a Navy veteran and former prosecutor.

The local polls  opened at 6 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m. tonight.  The results will be posted on ShoreDailyNews.com.

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Alexa WESR