She is known for the declaration that perhaps best summarized the passion of the 2018 midterm elections, proudly rebutting her opponent Dave Brat’s repeated and often nonsensical assertions that a vote for her “would further the failed liberal policies of Nancy Pelosi.”
As Abigail Spanberger introduced herself to much of America on October 16, 2018 to a roar of applause in a debate hall in Culpepper, Viginia, few held any doubt she would go on to emerge victorious on November 6th, and victorious she was, winning Virginia’s coveted 7th district by just under 2 percentage points.
As one of only thirty House districts that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and are currently represented by Democrats in Congress, VA-07 is historically conservative. Featuring the Richmond suburbs, but not Richmond itself, it was designated a battleground district in the 2018 midterm elections. Spanberger brought experience to the table, with CIA pedigree and a formidable resume complete with time spent as a federal law enforcement officer with the US Postal Inspection Service. Try as he might, her opponent could not convince voters that Spanberger was out to turn Richmond into the next San Francisco. She had, after all, spent her formative years right in the district, in Henrico County. Her interests lied in the district and with its people. She wanted to expand access to affordable healthcare and indeed had made the decision to run for Congress only after the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She stayed true to her campaign promise to vote for leadership change in the House and was one of only 15 Democrats to vote against Nancy Pelosi as speaker.
With committee assignments in agriculture and foreign affairs, Spanberger is a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus, the Blue Dog Coalition, and the New Democrat Coalition. Defying the partisan lean of VA-07, her record is one of the most progressive in Congress, despite having run a moderate campaign. She voted in July 2019 to table articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, but in September 2019, along with seven other freshmen “Security Democrats,” called for a formal impeachment inquiry of the president on the basis of his alleged abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Ultimately, she joined with the House of Representatives in December of 2019 to bring formal charges of impeachment against the president.
Following the President’s acquittal in the Senate on February 5, 2020, the United States soon found itself in the grips of a viral pandemic. As schools and businesses closed across Virginia, Representative Spanberger found herself advocating for increased broadband access and historical American leadership in the face of an international crisis. As an incumbent in a rural district, she realized that children without internet access could not attend virtual classrooms, and she worked to spearhead a bipartisan effort for coast to coast broadband. She also feared that the US was abdicating its traditional role in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, opining in the Washington Post, “if we abandon our historical leadership in the face of this pandemic, other nations, like China, will attempt to fill the void.”
As the election of November 3, 2020 approaches, disruptions for GOP challengers abound. The 7th District Republican Committee voted to change the date of their convention, originally scheduled for April 25th, due to Coronovirus concerns. The convention has not been rescheduled, and eight Republican challengers will be on the ballot for the June 23rd primary. That leaves little time before November for the eventual GOP nominee to secure the funds and support necessary to mount a successful campaign. In the running for the GOP nomination are Nick Freitas, Representative in Virginia House of Delegates for District 30 and US Army Veteran, and John McGuire, Representative in the Virginia House of Delegates for District 56 and former U.S. Navy Seal.
Craig Ennis is a former unsuccessful Green Party candidate in the VA HOD District 28, with prior service in the Virginia National Guard. Other candidates include Pete Greenwald, Bridgette Williams, Tina Ramirez, Andrew Knaggs, and Jason Alexander Roberge. Only time will tell how partisan changes in the 7th district, along with the effects of an embattled presidency, an ongoing viral pandemic, and a severe economic downturn will eventually shape the outcome of this race. Whatever the result, this one is sure to keep us on the edge until November. Stay tuned!