Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Spanberger beats Vega in key U.S. House victory for Democrats

Abigail Spanberger

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democratic U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger held onto her seat Tuesday evening, per the Associated Press, beating back a challenge by Yesli Vega, a Trump-endorsed county supervisor who made national headlines for her inaccurate comments on pregnancies resulting from rape.

Why it matters: Virginia's 7th Congressional District, which Spanberger has represented since 2019, is one of a handful of closely contested races in the country expected to determine control of the House of Representatives.

  • Cook Political Report had rated the district "Lean Democrat" until the week before the election, when it shifted its forecast to "toss-up."

Background: Spanberger, a former CIA officer, pitched herself as a moderate in tune with the district's purple politics.

  • Her campaign focused on bipartisan legislation she supported, including funding police and banning stock trading by members of Congress.

Meanwhile, in an onslaught of television ads, she attacked Vega's opposition to abortion and repeatedly highlighted comments Vega made during the primary downplaying the possibility of becoming pregnant as a result of rape.

The intrigue: Spanberger picked up a late endorsement from outgoing Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who has become one of the GOP's most vocal critics of Trump's influence in the party.

  • And Vega, who serves as a Prince William County supervisor and an auxiliary deputy sheriff, downplayed her own endorsement by Trump, distancing herself from the controversial former president despite previously campaigning with some of his closest allies.

On the campaign trail, Vega emphasized her personal story as the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants who would be the first Latina elected to represent Virginia in Congress.

  • Vega won a six-way primary contest to face Spanberger, with endorsements from some of the GOP’s outspoken culture warriors, including 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.
  • Vega also received a boost from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), who campaigned with her in the days before the election.
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