Virginia lawmakers hoping to unseat Democratic congresswomen use Ukrainian crisis to blast Biden

By: - February 24, 2022 5:49 pm

People hold flags and posters during a protest against the Russian attack on Ukraine near the Russian Embassy, on February 24, 2022 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Overnight, Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with explosions reported in multiple cities and far outside the restive eastern regions held by Russian-backed rebels. (Photo by Paulius Peleckis/Getty Images)

As the world was still coming to grips with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Virginia Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, used the crisis to raise money for his congressional run in what could be one of the country’s most competitive districts.

The subject line of the email that went out Thursday just before 9 a.m. read: “America’s Enemies Know Biden is Weak.”

“No leader respects Joe Biden and no enemy of America fears him,” said the email, which solicited $25, $100 or $250 donations to “take back Congress and force Joe Biden to rebuild our military and restore America’s credibility.”

Like Reeves, Sen. Jennifer Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, who is also a strong congressional contender hoping to flip a Democratic-held district, also took aim at Biden. In a statement posted to Twitter Wednesday afternoon, Kiggans said Biden “only has himself to blame” for Putin’s refusal to “back down.”

“America, our allies, and the world are less safe with President Biden in the White House,” Kiggans said. “The American people must fight back against this weak administration and demand change this November.”

That drew a rebuke from Kiggans’ would-be opponent, U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Norfolk.

As Ukraine, Europe, and the U.S. face a crisis not seen for 80 years, this former Naval officer running against me would like to score political points,” Luria, a Navy veteran herself said, referring to Kiggans’ background as a former Navy pilot.

U.S. Rep Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico, whom Reeves would face if he wins a crowded Republican nominating contest, issued a statement Wednesday night reiterating support for “America’s values of freedom, peace and democracy” while avoiding partisan shots.

“We must be united in condemning Putin’s war, an act of aggression that serves only the irrational self-interest of one man,” Spanberger said. “In the hours and days ahead, he must feel the sting of unprecedented sanctions from the United States and our partners around the world.”

With a large segment of the Republican base still strongly loyal to former President Donald Trump, who recently called Putin’s aggression against Ukraine “smart” and “genius,” the prospect of full-blown war on Europe’s eastern edge has drawn mixed responses from Virginia Republicans.

By contrast, instead of condemning Biden, Gov. Glenn Youngkin kept his focus on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is an assault on a sovereign nation and will have devastating consequences for Ukrainian citizens,” Youngkin said on Twitter. “This senseless, unprovoked attack undermines democracy worldwide and we must hold Russia accountable.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. Contact him at [email protected]