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Abigail Spanberger, Jennifer Wexton win Virginia swing districts, defy odds of GOP momentum

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Democrats were able to hold on to two key Virginia swing district seats heavily targeted by House Republicans’ campaign arm, defying millions of dollars in ad spending in a bullish year for the GOP.

Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton defeated their Republican challengers in narrow races. But Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria was ousted by GOP state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans.

Several major news networks called Ms. Wexton’s victory against retired Navy captain and Republican Hung Cao first, followed by Ms. Spanberger’s win against Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega.

Ms. Luria narrowly lost to Ms. Kiggans, who is a former Navy helicopter pilot and nurse practitioner 

Ms. Spanberger and Ms. Wexton thanked voters in their respective districts on election night.

“Thank you, VA-07. We did it!” Ms. Spanberger said in a tweet.

The incumbents’ victory is a favorable sign for Democrats in what was expected to be a “red wave” pickup year for Republicans, who sought to tie vulnerable lawmakers to national issues like crime and inflation.

The National Republican Congressional Committee poured tens of millions of dollars into more than 70 vulnerable swing-district Democrats’ races.

Part of the GOP strategy included tying lawmakers to President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom they saw as unpopular in less liberal districts when the economy and inflation remain top issues.

“Nancy Pelosi is endorsing Abigail Spanberger, Elaine Luria, and Jennifer Wexton because they always support her failed agenda that has fueled inflation,” said Camille Gallo, an NRCC spokeswoman.

In one television ad targeting Ms. Spanberger, an image of her was placed alongside Mrs. Pelosi where she appeared to be cloned from her. The message also emphasized that she voted with the speaker 100% of the time.

Ms. Luria’s loss was a key win for Republicans, taking out the only vulnerable member of the Democratic-led Jan. 6 committee. She represents Virginia’s 2nd district, which houses all of Virginia Beach and parts of Suffolk and Chesapeake.

Ms. Luria used her position on her committee to boost her profile and attacked Ms. Kiggans for wanting to audit elections in Virginia.

“I’m not your candidate if you stand with insurrectionists,” Ms. Luria told the Virginia Mercury.

Ms. Kiggans, meanwhile, used Ms. Luria’s position on the committee to her advantage, boosting Republicans who largely view it as a partisan attack on conservatives.

“Who’s watching the Jan. 6 committee featuring Elaine Luria doing questioning on primetime TV tonight?” Ms. Kiggans tweeted earlier this year. “Dems are spending millions of dollars on this while Americans are paying record-breaking prices for gas & groceries & suffering through 9.1% inflation!”



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