Jun 22, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Yesli Vega wins GOP primary to face Abigail Spanberger in Virginia

Yasli Vega
Yasli Vega. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Yesli Vega, a Prince William County supervisor endorsed by some of the GOP’s most outspoken culture warriors, has won the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Why it matters: The district is expected to be one of the most competitive in the country, with Republicans viewing it as a key opportunity to pick up one of the seats they need to regain a majority in the U.S. House.

Vega easily prevailed in Tuesday’s primary over candidates with more money and more name recognition, including a sitting state senator.

Driving the news: While former President Trump stayed out of the race, Vega was boosted by endorsements from some of his strongest backers, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Virginia Rep. Bob Good.

  • Vega also touted the endorsement of Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a conservative activist who had urged Trump’s chief of staff to help overturn the 2020 election.
  • “I strongly encourage Trump supporters and movement conservatives across the Seventh and across the country to rally behind [Vega’s] campaign,” Thomas said.

Catch up quick: The primary featured six candidates and had been considered a toss-up by most observers.

  • Vega’s closest competitors were Derrick Anderson, a former Green Beret, and Bryce Reeves, a state senator endorsed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Virginia Gov. George Allen.

What they’re saying: Political commentators called Vega’s win the best possible outcome for Spanberger, who has to work to introduce herself in a district that has been completely redrawn since she was first elected in 2018.

  • “Suburban Republicans tend to shy away from cultural warriors … and that creates a potential problem for the Republican nominee going forward,” Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, tells Axios.

Yes, but: Vega said her personal story connected with voters.

  • She’s the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants who fled the country during a civil war and is the first Latina elected to the Prince William Board of Supervisors.
  • She pursued a career in law enforcement and currently serves as a deputy sheriff in Prince William County.

What’s next: An expensive, messy political brawl is ahead.

  • Spanberger, a centrist Democrat, did not face a primary challenge and has raised a tremendous amount of money for the race.
  • She reported $4.3 million in cash on hand as of the beginning of June.
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