3 Virginia Democrats in Congress fighting GOP challengers

Nov 7, 2022, 12:01 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 12:58 pm

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., left, waves to Spotsylvania County, Va., residents as they wal...

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., left, waves to Spotsylvania County, Va., residents as they walk into Smith Station Elementary School in Fredericksburg, Va., to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (Tristan Lorei/The Free Lance-Star via AP)

(Tristan Lorei/The Free Lance-Star via AP)

DUMFRIES, Va. (AP) — Three Democratic congresswomen in Virginia are looking to survive tough reelection bids Tuesday in a midterm election season where Republicans are seeking to regain control of the House of Representatives.

Elaine Luria, Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton were all elected to Congress in 2018. All three are top targets of the GOP in this election cycle.

Luria’s race against state Sen. Jen Kiggans and Spanberger’s race against Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega, in particular, are among the highest-profile congressional races in the country.

Luria, a retired naval commander, is running in Virginia’s 2nd District. It includes Virginia Beach and is home to an outsize military presence. It has long been a swing district in Virginia and remains so, though the most recent round of redistricting tweaked the boundaries in a way that made it slightly more favorable to the GOP than it was.

Kiggans also has military bona fides as a former Navy helicopter pilot. Luria, who serves on the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, has called Kiggans an election denier. Kiggans has acknowledged that Joe Biden is president but has remained silent on whether she believes he was fairly elected.

Spanberger, in her race, saw her 7th District boundaries radically overhauled, forcing her to introduce herself to a whole new swath of constituents. The district was based in central Virginia in 2018 when she became a darling of the Democratic Party for knocking off conservative Republican Dave Brat.

The district is now centered in the northern Virginia and Fredericksburg areas, and Spanberger does not live within its new borders.

Spanberger campaigned on abortion rights, running ads that highlighted comments from Vega that expressed doubt about whether women could become pregnant from rape.

Vega, a Prince William County supervisor, raised millions and brought in high-profile GOP surrogates. She highlighted her life story as a daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, and would become Virginia’s first Latina member of Congress if elected.

Wexton, a former prosecutor and state legislator, is favored in her reelection bid against Republican Hung Cao. Wexton has won more than 56% of the vote in her last two elections. But Republicans have high hopes for Cao, a retired Navy captain and Vietnamese immigrant, in a district with high percentages of Asian Americans and military families.

Ted Lyons of Woodbridge and his wife voted early on Friday for Vega.

“She just kind of lines up with what we believe,” he said, citing the the former police officer’s support for law enforcement.

Derek Franklin of Triangle voted for Spanberger.

“I think Vega is too extreme,” he said.

None of the Spanberger voters interviewed Friday at an early voting site in Dumfries said they felt unfamiliar with Spanberger, despite having her district redrawn. To the contrary, they said they had been inundated with information from both candidates.

In the state’s eight other congressional districts four Republican incumbents — Morgan Griffith, Rob Wittman, Bob Good and Ben Cline — and four Democratic incumbents — Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly, Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin — are all favored to win reelection.

Polls close in Virginia at 7 p.m.


Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

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3 Virginia Democrats in Congress fighting GOP challengers