This Tuesday, Virginia Democrats go to the polls in the 8th Congressional District to choose between incumbent Rep. Don Beyer and squad-backed candidate Victoria Virasingh. Republicans have already selected Karina Lipsman, whose diversity as a candidate aptly represents the changing district, something which "absolutely" inspired her to run. Townhall recently spoke to Lipsman about what matters to her in this race.
While the district is reliably blue, Lipsman is a compelling candidate as the second woman that the GOP has nominated for the district. She is also refugee immigrant who was born in Ukraine and came to the United States when she was eight, first settling in Baltimore. Her opportunity to run, after coming over with nothing, is "absolutely" the American Dream, Lipsman said.
Close to a majority of the district now includes minorities and immigrants, which Lipsman believes is "being underserved and being taken advantage of," by politicians, an experience which she "can relate to 100 percent." Lipsman also pointed out that minority communities are hurt by Democratic leadership and have been "over decades," as voters keep re-electing them, which she experienced in Baltimore.
Although Lipsman has never run for office before, she was elected on the first round ballot last month with nearly 62 percent of the vote in a crowded field.
When it came to what motivated Lipsman to run, she explained that it was seeing similarities to where she came from in Soviet-Ukraine to how our government is being run.
"Over the last couple of years I started seeing a significant change in how our leaders were implementing policy and introducing policy and the kinds of policies and so it almost triggered me to my childhood and when we were in the Soviet Union, in Ukraine, and how demoralizing, how it felt being in a controlled, repressive regime, and I think during COVID we saw that," she shared.
Lipsman also shared a concern with "certain things with the Biden administration, the failed policies, the fact that we now have a war in Ukraine and we could have deterred that from happening and the fact that we are now dependent on energy from dictators and inflation is through the roof."
These revelations made Lipsman, a millennial, realize "'oh my gosh, someone needs to stand up,' and I felt that it was our chance to also stand up as a youth and get more involved, because this is going to affect us personally in the next few years" and "is going to affect our children, our grandchildren, but it's mostly going to affect us and we have people who are entrenched in this political thing and they've been there for decades."
Beyer has been in office since 2015, and is the successor to Jim Moran, a Democrat who was in office from 1991 until 2015.
When it comes to "career politicians," Lipsman wondered "how do you then bring a new face, a new vision into politics which is moderate and common-sense oriented, but you're still getting things done and you're working across the aisle."
The district has not only changed demographically, but there has been an increase in Republican voting throughout the commonwealth, even and including in the 8th District. Lipsman affirmed that this is another factor in her running, and shared that being part of the Glenn Youngkin campaign, gave her "the momentum and the excitement to take the next leap" to run.
Last November, Virginia elected a Youngkin as their first Republican governor since 2009. Voters also elected fellow Republicans Winsome Earl Sears as lieutenant governor and Jason Miyares as attorney general.
Lipsman shared she was "shocked by how many Republicans, but also Independents and conservative Democrats were excited about Youngkin." Exit polls indicate that Youngkin won Independents and improved with that voting demographic and several others compared to previous GOP candidates.
Youngkin earlier this year launched political groups to assist fellow Republicans in getting elected at the federal level.
Lipsman shared that Gov. Youngkin had reached out to congratulate her, with his former senior advisor, Ellen Walter, serving as the political director for Lipsman's campaign and assisting with coalitions.
She also affirmed that they are "definitely" using Youngkin's winning model, sharing "it's his playbook, it's his get out the vote playbook, which engages the non-political stay-at-homes-moms" which she agreed will fit the district well.
With Virginia being one of the only two off year statewide elections it's seen as a potential indicator for the midterm elections, which are now less than five months away.
Lipsman is "absolutely" inspired and motivated by the red wave that is predicted. She pointed out that "the failed leadership has people on both sides of the aisle questioning where are we headed, what's going to happen, how are we going to combat inflation, crime, education, and indoctrination of our children in the school systems."
When it comes to the issues motivating this year's elections, Lipsman offered "people's pocket books are being pinched." Even in Virginia's 8th District, Lipsman is noticing a rise in crime from reading the news, and thus won't go walking around by herself anymore, despite how she's "escaped Baltimore City to come here" to Arlington and pays taxes so as to supposedly have enough police in order to feel safe.
Her three "priorities" include "education, public safety, and the economy," which "are the three things that actually impact people on a daily basis and you can see it, you can feel it, and we've been experiencing that." Lipsman expressed "that's what people want to hear from politicians, what they want to hear from their elected leaders," and that "they don't want to hear some platitudes about what's going on in the rest of the world, which is still impacting us," but offered that "what's happening, what are we doing at home to combat all of these issues," which "is what voters like and "is exactly the platform we're going to run and it's going to be issues-based." Lipsman also has a concern with national security, especially with the district being so close to Washington, D.C.
When it comes to winning over voters who typically don't turn out, Lipsman raised concerns with mental health--especially after Democrats shut down the country during the pandemic--as well as animal welfare and encouraging healthier eating and healthier lifestyles.
Lipsman emphasized that she sees the campaign as an interview with voters, noting they look for a candidate's skill sets, how they work with others, and what they bring to the table. It's thus a matter of "connecting with [voters], sending them the right message, and also being able to get into these underprivileged areas which have been for so long forgotten."
Republicans have adopted such a model nationwide and recently elected Mayra Flores (R-TX), flipping a blue seat with such a tactic of reaching voters that the party had not thought to try to win over beforehand.
That Lipsman cares about domestic issues first and foremost but is Ukrainian-born also came up. While she sympathizes with what's going on in Ukraine, she emphasized "at the end of the day I'm American and I believe that charity starts at home and we need to fix our own problems before we staring sending aid to foreign countries."
When it comes to sending a particularly high amount of foreign aid to Ukraine, Lipsman mentioned that with "the amount that we're sending, I would want to have transparency and accountability into what that involves." She wants to know where the $40 billion in aid is going, especially as she stressed how it's important to first fix local issues of inflation, supply chain issues, and baby formula shortages.
You can also read my piece of the unfair and biased coverage Lipsman has received from local media outlets obsessed with an offhand comment she made about how Dr. Anthony Fauci "should be jailed."