Reviews | Why Abigail Spanberger is convinced she can be re-elected
“You have to do something,” Spanberger says. And that’s why she’s so excited about the Democrats’ recent string of legislative victories. Although no bill is perfect, she said, “we are moving forward. Success breeds success.
The headquarters of Spanberger is a real swing district. She won in 2018 and 2020 with less than 51% of the vote. His voters voted for Donald Trump by six points in 2016 and for Joe Biden by one point in 2020. To complicate matters, the district’s boundaries have changed significantly thanks to the redistricting, meaning Spanberger has to run for a whole series of new voters. (She lost some Richmond suburbs and regained areas as far west as Shenandoah and more DC outer suburbs.) Although some of her constituents were part of the former 7th District, hundreds of thousands did not were not.
Still, she has a lot to show voters after this summer. For a district that includes Marine Corps Base Quantico and is home to many veterans, recently passed legislation that will expand access to health care for sick veterans exposed to burns from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is certainly welcome. Democrats in the US House of Representatives “did not compromise” on the bill, she said. “We asked the Senate to be as responsive as we are.” After humiliating themselves with unnecessary delay, Senate Republicans finally helped pass the bill 86-11.
Additionally, Spanberger says his district has “so many retirees on fixed incomes” who will save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars thanks to the reconciliation plan recently passed by the Senate, which includes a $2,000 cap on the costs of Medicare drugs, a cap on insulin prices for those on Medicare, and reforms to allow the government to negotiate prices with drug companies.
Even the increased funding package for the Internal Revenue Service gets a boost. “People who have problems with the tax authorities want it to work,” she says.
Meanwhile, abortion was not on many voters’ radar until the Supreme Court struck down abortion rights in June. “Suddenly it’s in the foreground,” Spanberger says. The idea that they might not be able to get care after a miscarriage is a “shocking reality” for many voters. Even those who might not be directly affected are expressing unease that “things are going backwards.
The issue of abortion looms large in his district, as his Republican challenger, Yesli Vega, applauded the overthrow of Roe v. Wade. Vega was recently filmed looking a lot like Republican US Senate candidate from Missouri, Todd Akin, who argued that women can’t get pregnant from rape. In the recording, after someone made a similar claim, Vega replied, “Maybe, because there’s so much going on in the body? I do not know. . . . But if I process what you say, it wouldn’t surprise me, because it’s not something that happens organically. You force it.
Spanberger slammed Vega for the remark, which Spanberger says has “no reality in fact or biology.” She added that Vega is “incredibly extreme” and wants “more government control and more government intrusion.”
Nevertheless, Spanberger faces a difficult political environment in which inflation remains a major problem. She acknowledges voter pain and the cycle of “bad news after bad news” causing so much angst. She admits that some people want to blame everything on President Biden and expect an immediate solution. But, she says, “people recognize that things are complicated.” And they want to know what she is doing to solve the problems.
Spanberger is betting voters are far less ideological and more results-oriented than partisan media and politicians. If so, she couldn’t ask for a better contrast from her opponent. As a moderate Democrat running against a hardline MAGA candidate, Spanberger argues voters want lawmakers who appreciate “nuance,” can get things done, and aren’t driven by partisanship.
Thanks to the series of legislative successes, Spanberger and other Democrats in tough races can at least show voters what they are doing to improve voters’ lives (for example, cutting drug costs, building infrastructure, taking care of veterans, help residents convert to clean energy). This will be critical in November as Democrats offer voters a choice between offbeat MAGA candidates and pragmatic Democrats who have delivered for them.