Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Karina Lipsman, GOP candidate, runs to take down House Dem in deep-blue Northern Virginia

Ukrainian immigrant and first-time GOP candidate Karina Lipsman has set her sights on Virginia’s bluest congressional district.

She says she was inspired by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s upset victory last year over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, which she says shows voters are frustrated with the old guard leadership in Virginia.

“He made it OK for independents and Democrats to vote Republican,” Ms. Lipsman said in an interview with The Washington Times.

Ms. Lipsman’s campaign is starkly different from the vast majority of Republican hopefuls running this cycle, who have largely embraced an “America First” agenda inspired by former President Donald Trump. Instead, she said that she’s offering a pragmatic Republican approach to the voters in the 8th Congressional District, which includes Alexandria and Falls Church in the heavily Democratic Washington suburbs.

“Our approach is a common sense approach of focusing on the issues that matter to people. We’re not engaging in polarizing politics,” Ms. Lipsman said. “It’s meeting people where they are, not trying to change their mind, and letting them know ‘hey, I will be a voice for you whether or not you agree with me on every single thing.”

To score her own upset against four-term Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, she is working to assemble a diverse coalition. She is running as a moderate and avoiding hyper-partisan rhetoric. Her campaign is mostly focused on education, the economy and national security.

Ms. Lipsman hopes to attract independents and moderate Democrats in the district, which hasn’t elected a Republican since Rep. Stanford Parris, who served from 1981 to 1991.

On the war in Ukraine, Ms. Lipsman faulted President Biden for failing to stop the Russian invasion. Surprisingly, she also criticized Mr. Biden for spending more than $13 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.

“The war on Ukraine should have never happened. This is something we could’ve prevented. We had the intelligence. We had the capability. The administration knew what was on the line,” Ms. Lipsman said. “It’s unfortunate, and now we’re providing blank checks to Ukraine. I believe charity starts at home.”

Born in Odesa, Ukraine, when it was still part of the Soviet Union, Ms. Lipsman came to the U.S. as a refugee in the 1990s when she was 8 years old. Her family spoke no English and lived off of public assistance, she said.

She went on to study economics at Towson University and worked in defense and intelligence after graduating. She later earned a master’s degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Her motivation for running for office, she said, stems from her experience achieving the American Dream, with her chief goal being to preserve that opportunity for others.

Ms. Lipsman recalled her childhood living under the authoritarian Soviet regime and how people would suppress small symbols of wealth.

“You couldn’t walk outside the house and just talk to anybody, you had to hide a lot of things because you were afraid that the police were going to come after you,” Ms. Lipsman said. “If you come into a little bit of wealth, meaning if you got a new skirt or a new school outfit or a pencil box, automatically it was like, ‘Where did you get that from?’ You just didn’t talk to anybody about anything. Everybody was very much suppressed.”

Ms. Lipsman thinks her story will resonate with the growing immigrant community in the district. Census data shows that the 8th District, home to just over 813,000 residents, has more than 228,000 foreign-born residents.

The candidate cites her ability to connect with newer Virginians as her chief strength for defeating Mr. Beyer, who she dubbed a “career politician.”

“In the 10 years I’ve lived in this area, a lot has changed. The demographics have changed. It’s now 47% immigrants and minorities. They want to experience the American Dream. They want to be part of America. That’s why they came here and are in this area, and Don Beyer has done absolutely nothing for them,” Ms. Lipsman said.

Ms. Lipsman also hit at Mr. Beyer’s party-line voting record.

“Don Beyer has been voting with his party 100%, but I am going to be standing with the people and if the people want something and my party says they want something else, I will always do what is in the best interest of this district,” Ms. Lipsman said.

Mr. Beyer’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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