by Brandon Jarvis

Missy Cotter Smasal is seeking the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s second congressional district.

She announced her run for Congress in September, touting her background in the Navy and a desire to run because the incumbent, Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans, has not lived up to her promise to “stand up for coastal Virginia and focus on military families and veterans,” Smasal said at the time.

Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat, held the district from 2018 to 2022. Redistricting in 2021 made VA-02 friendlier to Republicans, and Luria lost to Kiggans by three points in 2022.

Virginia Scope talked to Smasal recently about her campaign. Read what she had to say below.

Why she is running

“I’ve been disappointed with Jen Kiggans and her being ineffective and actually voting against the interests of people here in coastal Virginia,” Smasal said in an interview with Virginia Scope Friday. “I served as an officer in the Navy. I have had a small business here in the district for over a decade. And I knew that it was important that we had somebody in Congress that better reflected the needs and concerns of the district. I’m really focusing on making sure that we are protecting our democracy. I know that Donald Trump and his MAGA allies like Jen Kiggans really pose a threat to it. Virginians care about rights, they care about protecting democracy, and they’re also very concerned about protecting reproductive care and abortion rights. Those are things that I hear on the doors. So, I want to make sure that we have representatives who will stand up for those things and I raise my hand to do that.”

What would separate her from Kiggans as a member of Congress

“I’m the only pro-choice Navy veteran in the race. I think that is a crucial differentiation. Here in the district, there is a big military population, a lot of Navy veterans and military families — making sure that we’re actually standing up for them and not just using them as rhetoric. Jen Kiggans has actually voted to take away funding from the Veterans Administration. She’s actually voted to try to prevent women in the military from being able to access reproductive care when they’re stationed in a place that takes away their bodily autonomy.”

Smasal also discussed the chaotic Republican House caucus, which has been experiencing internal power struggles over the last two years.

“Kiggans has been put in this ineffectual chaotic crowd that is really harming our local economy here. There are a lot of people in coastal Virginia who are concerned about rising prices and the cost of living. Our district is about 40% dependent on federal funding, so when Kiggans buys into the chaos of extremists in her party, and when they can’t have budgets, or fund the government appropriately, or just kick the can down the road all the time, it impacts decisions here as a small business owner. I know that you need stability in order to grow your business and to be strong. We actually spent some time visiting some local veterans businesses this week, and they’re saying the same things. They want to make sure that they can grow their businesses and support their employees, and that starts with a stable federal government, which Kiggans and Republicans cannot provide.”

What she is doing to flip this district

“I think Democrats are very fired up right now in coastal Virginia. When I kicked off my campaign in September, I spent a lot of time knocking on doors with some of the great candidates here for the General Assembly. We flipped the House of Delegates — we got that 51st seat here in the heart of Virginia Beach, in the heart of the second district with Mike Feggans. He and I were knocking on doors together, and I really think voters are very motivated to come out. They want to see a change. They are not happy with the chaos coming out of Congress. And in a post-Dobbs world, people, especially women, feel that their bodily autonomy is truly threatened. That’s gonna motivate people to come out. I also think Jen Kiggans has a record now; she can’t pretend to be moderate anymore because she’s actually taking these votes. She has actually called Marjorie Taylor Greene a teammate and a good friend, and they want the same thing. So she showed herself for the extremists that she is, and we’re gonna hold her to that this fall. I’m confident that we can win the seat back.”

What separates her from her primary opponent, and what she wants Democrats to know about her

“I want Democrats to know that I am the person that can beat Kiggans in November. I think that my Navy background really speaks to the district and is incredibly important here. My experience as a small business owner, my time serving as the Virginia citizen representative to the Chesapeake Bay Commission working on legislation with lawmakers in a bipartisan way and multi-state way. All of those experiences really speak to the issues, concerns and experiences of the people in the district. I also know the primary voters are thrilled to see this incredible team that we brought to the table to win this seat in November.”

Smasal has the backing of all the Democrats in Virginia’s congressional delegation and a long list of state lawmakers.

“I have endorsements from the entire Virginia Democratic Congressional delegation. Voters are so thrilled that we have the support of Reps. Bobby Scott, Jennifer McClellan, Abigail Spanberger, Jennifer Wexton, Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly. We have endorsements from former Govs. Northam and McAuliffe. We’re so thrilled with this full-team approach here in the commonwealth. Across our district, we have been able to bring together this coalition, this team of school board members, city council members, a lot of great state delegates and senators like Dels. Michael Feggans, Nadarius Clark and Alex Askew —we have this fantastic team coming together. Because of this great work we’ve done, our district is getting this national team that’s being built up now. I’ve been endorsed by excellent groups like Planned Parenthood and EMILYs List — primary voters know they can trust me on reproductive rights and standing up for women’s rights. We’ve been endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters and Vote Vets — so many veterans in this district know they can count on me for veterans issues. I am thrilled to be the first challenger in the country that Hakeem Jeffries personally endorsed, and I think that speaks to how important it is that we have this strong campaign and we show up on primary day and have a huge turnout to show Kiggans we’re ready to take the seat and flip the house.”

Would she vote to codify Roe at the federal level


Early voting is already underway across Virginia. Primary day is June 18.

Smasal’s primary opponent, Jake Denton, has not yet responded to a request for an interview with Virginia Scope.

By vascope