Navy veteran launches bid for seat held by Kiggans

Democrat Missy Cotter Smasal, a Navy veteran and former small-business owner, launched a bid for the House seat in Virginia currently held by first-term GOP Rep. Jen Kiggans.

Kiggans, who unseated former Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) in the 2022 midterms, represents one of the 18 House districts in the country that voted for President Biden in 2020 but is currently represented by a Republican.

In a press release Wednesday, Cotter Smasal announced her campaign for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, stressing her desire to stand up for “Coastal Virginia’s families, military, and veterans.” She did not include a single mention of party affiliation but labeled her opponent an “extremist DC politician.”

“I’m running for Congress because I truly love Coastal Virginia,” Cotter Smasal said in a press release. “I was compelled to run because our current Congresswoman, who promised to stand up for Coastal Virginia and focus on military families and veterans, has not done so.”

The Democrat accused Kiggans of voting to cut veterans’ health benefits, an apparent reference to her support for a Republican budget bill during debt ceiling negotiations.

Kiggans argued at the time that the bill “fully funds veterans’ health care programs and benefits while increasing the VA’s budget by nearly $18 billion,” adding “I will always fight for our nation’s veterans…!”

According to her press release, Cotter Smasal served as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy and then settled in Virginia Beach, where she ran Rita’s Italian Ice for more than 10 years. She now runs a nonprofit “that honors service women through running events” and is an adjunct professor, according to her campaign website.

Following the announcement of Cotter Smasal’s campaign launch, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) responded in a statement describing her as “extreme” and “wrong” for the district. 

“Missy Cotter Smasal is an extreme Democrat with a losing record who is the wrong fit for this district. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans is delivering support for service members’ mental health and fighting to preserve Medicare and Social Security,” NRCC spokeswoman Delanie Bomar said in a statement.

Tags Elaine Luria House races Jen Kiggans