A wide range of Republicans are already looking for a chance to take on one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House in Virginia’s seventh congressional district.
So far, seven Republicans have run to run in the district, which is represented by Rep. Abigail spanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerBuild Back Better is a 21st century New Deal House Democrat group launches six-figure ad campaign to sell ‘Trump in heels’ infrastructure package Amanda Chase launches offer for Spanberger seat MORE (D-Va.). Conservative Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase (right), who described herself as “Trump in heels,” threw her hat into the ring this weekend, lining up against compatriot Bryce Reeves (right) and former staff member. of Governor Bob McDonnell. (R) Taylor Keaney. Former candidates Del. John McGuire (R) and Tina Ramirez are also running in the primaries after losing to Del. Nick Freitas (R) in 2020. Derrick Anderson, John Castorani and Gautam Barve are also running in the primaries.
While the redistricting process could upset the map, National Republicans still see the seat as an excellent opportunity to pick it up. But the party will first have to go through what has the ingredients to be a forceful intrapartisan contest.
“I think the reason you see a crowded field of candidates is that it’s a great opportunity for a Republican draft,” said Tucker Martin, who served as strategic advisor for former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s winning 2009 campaign (R ) and is supporting Keaney.
Republicans saw gains in Virginia earlier this month, with the governor-elect Glenn youngkinGlenn Youngkin Democrats face strong headwinds as they map out midterm strategy Race is not central to the Rittenhouse case, but the media yells at it anyway Youngkin says education may be a winning issue for Republicans MORE (R) winning against Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffe Democrats face strong headwinds as they map out midterm strategy Race is not central to the Rittenhouse case, but the media yells at it anyway Youngkin says education may be a winning issue for Republicans MORE (D) and the Republicans almost took control of the House of Delegates. Youngkin won the 7th District by 11 points a year after Spanberger narrowly won re-election in the district by less than 2 points.
Throughout the gubernatorial campaign, Youngkin remained highly focused on kitchen table issues such as rising prices and education. Parents’ rights over school boards and the backlash to last year’s coronavirus school closings proved to be an issue that ignited the conservative base and put off undecided voters.
“Even when, in this last election, parents sent a resounding message to liberal progressives that they don’t want their policies,” Ramirez told The Hill. “This is different because I can talk about the fact that I was a teacher and I continue to teach all over the world.”
Virginia Lieutenant Governor-elect Winsome Sears drew attention in Virginia political circles this week when she spoke at Ramirez’s campaign rally in Chesterfield on Tuesday without endorsing her. It’s unclear whether Youngkin or Sears will back in the primaries. Some have questioned whether Youngkin will support McGuire, who endorsed Youngkin before the gubernatorial convention earlier this year.
But national figures are turning their attention to the race in the form of early endorsements and recognition.
On Friday, the former Secretary of Energy Rick perryRick Perry Republicans Are 21st Century Know-Nothing Party College Football Movement Shakes Texas Legislature Trump Tries To Spin Failed Texas Endorsement: ‘This Was A Victory’ MORE backed Reeves in the primaries, while the Speaker of the Republican House conference Elise stefanikElise Marie StefanikHouse GOP Seeks to Stop Biden from Reopening Palestinian Mission in Jerusalem Republican Primary in NH House Race Draws National Attention ‘Trump in Heels’ Amanda Chase Launches Spanberger Seat Offer MOREThe (RN.Y.) E-PAC named Keaney on their “Women to Watch” list.
Many of the candidates appear to represent various wings of the party. Keaney is seen as a favorite of the Republican establishment, while Chase and Reeves are seen as members of the staunchly conservative wing of the party.
Keaney emphasized kitchen table problems in a statement to The Hill touting his experience.
“I know the problems faced by families from all walks of life; I’ve worked to expand education opportunities in the district, I understand what businesses need, and don’t need, from the federal government to prosper, ”Keaney said. “I’m the cool, conservative voice in the race that can bring everyone together and win.”
The dynamics of the primaries are reminiscent of the district’s historic intra-Republican battle history. The seat once belonged to the former House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorVirginia emerges as ground zero in the battle for the loss of the majority of the McAuliffe House of Representatives exposes a deep Democratic gap Conclusion MORE (R-Va.) For more than 10 years. He was ousted by former Representative Dave Brat (R-Virginia) in the 2014 primaries in what many call a prelude to the Trump era in politics.
Brat was ousted by Spanberger during the “blue wave” of 2018. Spanberger has defended the seat ever since, but narrowly.
“There’s still kind of a Cantor versus Brat sentiment down there,” said Aaron Cutler, Cantor’s former senior adviser. “Obviously, I was surprised when Eric lost in 2014, but then someone like Glenn Youngkin won and did really well in the seventh. That’s not exactly a fringe candidate. “
The district contains much of western Richmond, including parts of Chesterfield and Henrico counties.
Insiders on both sides of the aisle say that Chase, in particular, is going to turn things around in the primaries as a controversial figure who has received national media coverage.
Chase received criticism from Democrats for speaking at a rally in October where attendees pledged allegiance to a flag that was flown during the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. He also attended the pro-Trump rally that preceded the riot and called attendees “patriots,” though he is not believed to have been among the mob that stormed the Capitol.
Members of the Republican establishment viewed Chase as a threat during the Republican governor’s convention earlier this year. In fact, Chase and her supporters accused members of the Republican establishment in Virginia of undermining her by holding a convention with voting by classification rather than a primary.
“The only scenario to snatch the nomination from Chase is a convention that includes ranked voting,” said talk show host John Fredericks, who served as president of Trump’s Virginia campaign in 2016 and 2020.
Still, Chase publicly campaigned alongside Youngkin during the general election, evidence of his strong position with the party’s conservative Trump wing.
“In a field of six, seven or eight people, Amanda Chase is the favorite,” said Fredericks. “People will walk on glass for it. Nobody else has that. “
But others point to the rural-suburban dynamic in the race, arguing that it will ultimately be decided in Chesterfield and Henrico, where they say a center-right candidate is more acceptable.
“I think the Youngkin model is what Taylor Keaney has going for her,” Martin said. “It showed that the base is ready to win again, but you need a candidate who can go where this race will be decided, which is the suburbs of Henrico and Chesterfield.”
But a Democrat involved in Virginia politics said Chase’s candidacy could force the other Republicans in the race to move further to the right during the rank-and-file fight.
“She’s going to lead everyone into this electoral conspiracy theory, the forensic audit world,” the Democratic source said. “She coming to this race is going to bring that front and center.”
Democrats also note that while Spanberger is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country, her election to the district after Brat’s term in Congress and her subsequent re-election was a feat in itself.
“Spanberger is the best Democrat possible to run in a district like that,” the source said. “She knows her district extremely well.”
However, Republicans beat up Democrats like Spanberger for her vote in favor of the Build Back Better social spending bill on Friday, tying her to progressive Democrats.
“There are no moderates in the House caucus. Period, ”said a Virginia-based Republican strategist.
Ultimately, though, no one can really start reading the tea leaves in the district until the new maps come out. Last week, the Virginia Supreme Court rejected three special redistricting teachers to redistrict district lines. Republicans must now nominate new special teachers.
“When you have someone who has narrowly won, a couple of little changes to the lines can mean a lot,” Martin said, referring to Spanberger.