Missy Cotter Smasal, Hung Cao win U.S House, Senate primaries

Published 3:05 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Democratic primary voters on June 18 overwhelmingly chose Missy Cotter Smasal, an ex-Navy surface warfare officer, over civil rights attorney Jeremiah “Jake Denton IV as their preferred candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Virginia Beach, in the 2nd Congressional District seat.

In a same-day Republican primary, voters overwhelmingly chose Hung Cao, a retired Navy captain backed by former President Donald Trump, over four other candidates vying for the party’s nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

According to unofficial results, Cotter Smasal won with 19,882 votes, or 70%, to Denton’s 8,483 or just under 30%.

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According to Isle of Wight County Electoral Board Secretary Geoff McFather, results should be finalized by close of business on June 24.

Cotter Smasal carried all eight cities and counties in the 2nd Congressional District, which spans from Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore to Isle of Wight and Southampton counties. Isle of Wight voters backed Cotter Smasal with 921 votes, or 74.6%, to Denton’s 313, or 25.3%. Denton performed best in the city of Franklin, the smallest of the eight localities, with just over 40% of the vote.

Cotter Smasal, in a news release, tied Kiggans to Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” also known as the “MAGA” movement.

“Today, Coastal Virginians sent a clear and resounding message: We reject Jen Kiggans and the MAGA extremism she supports in Congress,” Cotter Smasal said. “Jen Kiggans has failed us. Instead of standing up for Coastal Virginia she leans into the extremist MAGA agenda by voting to cut benefits and health care for veterans and to restrict abortion access for millions of women in Virginia and active duty service members. Anyone who says she ‘wants the same things’ as her ‘teammate’ Marjorie Taylor Greene is clearly unfit to represent our community. Her choice to call Trump’s 34 felony convictions a ‘rigged trial’ proves that she cannot be trusted to protect our democracy.”

Kiggans released her own statement following the primary calling her opponent “an out-of-touch liberal activist who would be nothing more than a rubber stamp for Joe Biden and the Democrats’ destructive policies.”

“This November, voters in southeast Virginia will once again reject Washington liberals’ failed agenda and reelect Jen Kiggans, a commonsense conservative with a proven track record of delivering results for families, veterans, and seniors,” Kiggans said. “ Virginians are tired of the Democrats taking our country and our Commonwealth in the wrong direction and will come out in November to vote against weak leadership and misguided policies. Missy is the wrong choice for Virginia and the wrong choice for America.”

Cao, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2022 against U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., faced Scott Parkinson, a former adviser to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, attorneys Jonathan Emord and Chuck Smith Jr. and Army veteran Eddie Garcia Jr. for the GOP nomination. Cao received 166,338, or 61.6%, of just over 269,000 votes cast statewide. Parkinson received 10.9% followed by Garcia at 9.75%, Smith at 8.8% and Emord at 8.6%.

“Thank you Virginia! For our win to coincide with the date of Joe Biden’s amnesty for illegal immigrants highlights the stakes of this November’s election,” Cao posted to X, formerly Twitter, on June 18. According to Associated Press Reporting, President Biden has announced a plan to allow spouses of U.S. citizens who’ve lived in the United States without legal status for at least 10 years to apply for permanent residency, and eventually citizenship, without having to first depart the country.

“I’ve been standing up for Virginians for 40 years as a civil rights lawyer and public servant representing my city, Commonwealth and country,” Kaine said in a statement released after the primary. “As your Senator, I’ll keep standing up for an economy that works for all, affordable healthcare, reproductive freedom, enhanced career and technical education and strengthening our military and allies while supporting our troops, veterans, and their families. I’m facing an opponent who called a Staunton newspaper ‘podunk’ and claimed that traveling from Northern Virginia to Abingdon for a candidate forum would be ‘ridonkulous.’ How elitist! You know I’ll stand up for you because I always show up for you.”

Cao carried Isle of Wight County with 64% of 1,454 votes, followed by Parkinson with 11.6%, Emord with 11%, Garcia with 7.7% and Smith with 5.5%. Cao also carried Surry County with 47.5% of 301 votes, followed by Garcia with 24.5%, Parkinson with 11.6%, Emord with 9.3% and Smith with 6.9%.