Gina Ciarcia stepped into the race for Virginia’s 2nd House District at a time when two other women vying for the seat are embroiled in a bitter primary battle.
“I think it’s excellent news for my run,” said Ciarcia, the Republican from Dumfries who will campaign for the from now until Election Day on November 2.
Incumbent Candi King sent an attack mailer, funded by the Virginia Democratic House Caucus, to residents in the 2nd District, including portions of eastern Prince William County and northern Stafford County, accusing her primary challenger Pamela Montgomery of not being Democratic enough. Then, Democrats said they couldn’t confirm the party authorized the mailer, despite having the caucus’ name printed on the mailers.
“Prior to this mailer, I was confident that Candi King was going to be the nominee, but now I’m not sure,” said Ciarcia. “She really put her foot in her mouth with this one.”
Montgomery, the chief of staff for Margaret Franklin, representing Woodbridge on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is endorsed by Clean Virginia, a Charlottesville-based PAC that won’t back politicians who take campaign contributions from Dominion Energy, the state’s largest utility.
King has accepted political donations from Dominion, which operates the Possum Point power station, near Dumfries, in the 2nd District. The facility burned coal to generate power for 55 years before converting to a gas-powered plant in 2003. Residents are still waiting to learn whether or not the utility will leave toxic coal ash — a byproduct of the coal burning process — lying at the bottom of slurry ponds surrounding the power station or if it will remove the ash.
While the Democrats fight it out in the days leading up to the June 8 statewide Primary Election, Ciarcia enters the race confident in how the GOP performed in the district four short months ago.
Candi King narrowly won by less than 300 votes in a January 5 Special Election against Republican Heather Mitchell. It was a close victory for King, who outraised Mitchell 275%, raking in $109,000 from fellow Democrats like Rep. Don Beyer (D-Arlington), State Senator Scott Surrovell (Fairfax, Prince William), and Delegates Hyala Ayala and Luke Torian, also from Prince William County.
The Special Election was held after Jennifer Carroll Foy stepped down from the 2nd District seat in December to focus full-time on her run for Virginia Governor. She’ll also be on the ballot on June 8 with a slew of other Democrats, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
“Actually, I can thank Jennifer Carroll Foy for getting me involved in politics,” said Ciarcia.
In 2019, Carroll Foy was a co-sponsor of legislation from Fairfax County Delegate Kathy Tran, making it easier for women to get an abortion in the final weeks of their pregnancy. The bill sparked national outrage, with conservatives likening the measure to infanticide.
“My stomach just flipped inside when I came to know that my delegate had per her name on that bill and tried to make it happen,” said Ciarcia.
Married 21 years to a U.S. Marine, Ciarcia has five children — a 17-year-old daughter and four boys ages 19, 17, 8, and 6. She raised her children while working as a homemaker for 15 years. She’s worked as a full-time teacher at a private school for the past three years.
Coming off a year off of classroom school closures brought on by government-mandated coronavirus shutdowns, Ciarcia said parents should have more choices when it comes to where their children go to school, positioning herself — as most GOP candidates have this election cycle — as a proponent of school choice.
“If schools had to compete for students like businesses have to compete for their customers, It would revolutionize education in the state,” she said.
Ciarcia’s children have attended a combination of public schools, private schools and were also homeschooled. “The public education system is incredibly expensive, and I think when you look at the overall return we get on our investment, it’s not a good outcome,” she adds.
The Republicans also criticized the Virginia Clean Economy Act, passed into law by Democrats in 2020. The legislation aims to require every resident to get their electricity from solar or wind within the next 23 years and force the closure of gas, oil, and coal power plants.
A citizens group urging the law be repealed estimates 490 square miles, or 270,000 football fields, an area 20 times larger than Manhattan in New York City, will be needed to build solar farms.
“Cutting down forests in Virginia to put up solar panels — that doesn’t make any sense to me. I think we would want to preserve our natural environment…is an illogical and ineffective plan,” said Ciarcia.