Democrats hold onto key House seats in Virginia in early positive sign for party

But Democrats are not entirely out of the woods yet in Virginia

Eric Garcia
Wednesday 09 November 2022 03:47 GMT
From the House to the Senate: What’s at stake in the 2022 midterms?

Democrats received an early break on Tuesday evening when they held two seats in Virginia that they flipped in 2018, a sign that they might be able to stave off a red wave in the House.

Representative Jennifer Wexton held her seat in Virginia’s 10th District, which includes much of the Washington DC suburbs. The non-partisan Cook Political Report had recently shifted its rating from Safe Democratic to likely Democratic.

Ms Wexton defeated Republican Hung Cao, a retired Navy pilot. Had Republicans flipped the district, they likely would have seen an overwhelming red wave.

After their success shaving off part of the Democratic majority in 2020, the GOP prioritised recruiting candidates of colour like Mr Cao, a refugee from Vietnam. Similarly, Republicans nominated Yesli Vega, the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants and retired police officer.

But Representative Abigail Spanberger, who beat a Republican the 7th District in 2018, beat Ms Vega on 8 November, with the Associated Press making a projection in the race at around 10.45pm ET. Ms Vega came under scrutiny after Axios reported that she questioned whether women could become pregnant after they were raped.

Ms Spanberger has been a voice for moderation within the Democratic Party, excoriating progressives for talking about defunding the police and herself authoring legislation to increase police funding. Similarly, she has teamed up with Republican Representative Chip Roy of Texas on legislation to ban stock trading in Congress.

Cook had rated Ms Spanberger’s race as a toss-up.

But Democrats are not entirely out of the woods yet in Virginia. Representative Elaine Luria, a retired Naval officer, is up against state Senator Jennifer Kiggans, a retired Naval pilot.

Ms Luria is the sole member of the House Select Committee investigating January 6 and has centered defending Democracy. But her district became much more Republican after redistricting.

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