RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The leaders of Virginia’s Democratic and Republican parties both expressed enthusiasm for the midterms, framing the other party’s platform as being out of touch with voters before Election Day.

Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, and state GOP Chairman Richard Anderson said they have seen voter enthusiasm grow in the state’s most competitive districts.

They both pointed to the races in Virginia’s 2nd, 7th and 10th Congressional Districts, with Swecker also noting Democrat Josh Throneburg’s challenge of Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) in the 5th District.

In interviews ahead of Election Day, Swecker and Anderson were scathing in their assessments of the other party and their candidates. Swecker and Anderson also gave opposing views on election deniers and whether they present a threat to American democracy.

Views of the other party

In this Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, file photo, Virginia Democratic Chairwoman Susan Swecker speaks during an election party in Falls Church, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

“I had thought we had hit rock bottom on the type of Republican how low you can go candidates that you would have but when you have somebody like Yesli Vega, who would proudly describe herself as the most conservative candidate and then questions whether women can get pregnant from rape and supports a national abortion ban with no exceptions,” Swecker told 8News. “That is really out of step with most Virginians, the large majority of Virginians.”

Swecker is referring to audio of comments Vega made — reported by Axios — that appear to downplay whether a woman can become pregnant after a rape. The Vega campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Vega has denied making the comments, with her campaign telling other outlets that she is anti-abortion with exceptions in the case of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger.

The Democratic Party chairwoman also criticized state Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), saying “she’ll do and say anything to get elected” in her race against Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) in the 2nd District.

“This is a woman [Kiggans] who also served in the military, served her country, and she won’t even say that Joe Biden was fairly and really elected,” Swecker said. “There’s something about this peaceful transfer of power that we’ve come to expect, and now we pray for that we’re going to have that instead of chaos and undermining our democratic principles.”

Anderson said he feels that Republicans have done a better job listening to voters about “issues of greatest concern,” mentioning GOP campaign talking points of education, parental rights, the economy, soaring inflation and gas prices.

“You better listen to the voters because they get to define the issues of importance to the electorate, not the political class,” Anderson told 8News. “We don’t get to define that.”

The GOP chair focused on policies passed under Democratic control in the county and Virginia, claiming Democratic candidates have tried to distance themselves from the party and “are trying to posture themselves” as being moderate.

American democracy under attack?

Then-Republican gubernatorial candidate, Glenn Youngkin, right, hugs Virginia Republican party chairman, Rich Anderson, as he arrives for an event in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, May 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Six days before Election Day, President Biden said that “democracy is at risk” in a speech sharing concerns about increased political violence.

Biden addressed false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen — pushed by former President Donald Trump and other Republicans — and his concerns that it has led to more political violence, including the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, and voter intimidation.

“On the issue of election denial, I think that the Democratic Party should simply sit down on that matter because for so many years they were the premiere deniers of electoral outcomes,” Anderson told 8News.

Anderson said that Al Gore did not accept the 2000 presidential election results, a common reference from Republicans on the issue of election denial. Gore lost to George Bush by a razor-thin margin in Florida and pursued a recount, but he accepted defeat after the Supreme Court overturned the decision from the state’s high court to move forward with a recount.

“In the past when we have heard election denial statements from Democrats and then today when we’ve heard statements from people who question the result of elections in the current time,” Anderson told 8News. “I don’t think that’s a threat to democracy in the sense that we have a very durable nation and we have endured and traversed through very trying periods in American history that have been a greater threat than that and we’ve always survived. That is the nature of the American experiment.”

When asked whether she was concerned over election deniers, the possibility of candidates not conceding races and Gov. Glenn Youngkin campaigning with candidates who reject the 2020 results, Swecker said she’s “always concerned.”

“I’ve been concerned about everything since election night in 2016,” she told 8News, referencing Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.

Swecker rebuked Youngkin over comments he made that appeared to make light of the attack on Pelosi’s husband — and his apology afterward — and his support for Republican Kari Lake, a gubernatorial candidate in Arizona who has denied the 2020 election results.

“I think it’s real important for us to not get off track and to stay focused,” she said. “But I will tell you this, it is nothing short of disgraceful that the chief executive officer of the Commonwealth of Virginia is trying to have it both ways. Present this affable good ol’ boy front, ‘I’m one of you all’ when he’s here in Virginia and then turns around and campaigns with election deniers and people that want to bring chaos to our system.”

Outlook on the midterms

Sun shines on the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

With days until Election Day, both Anderson and Swecker shared enthusiasm over the energy they’ve seen from voters on the campaign trail. But Anderson appeared more confident about the GOP’s chances on election night.

Anderson said he’s seen crowds for Vega and other Republicans in tight races grow as Election Day inches closer, comparing them to then-candidate Youngkin.

“I believe that the United States House of Representatives is without question going to have a significant Republican majority and I believe the Senate is going to have a Republican majority too,” he told 8News. “That was a doubt at one time but those people at the national level that prognosticate on all this as well as my own observation is the Senate is probably going to flip also.”

Swecker did not get into predictions but said that she “can sense that there’s a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy” for Democratic candidates and that voters are aware of what’s at stake, citing abortion rights, Medicare and Social Security.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher but the differences between the two parties’ candidates, the MAGA party cause there is no Republican party left in Virginia anymore, it’s just the MAGA party, and Democrats,” she said.

Early voting in Virginia started in September and runs until Nov. 5. Election Day is Nov. 8.