Abigail Spanberger Just Beat Tea Party Darling Dave Brat in Virginia

Spanberger will be the first Democratic representative from the state’s 7th District in nearly 50 years.

With her victory, Abigail Spanberger will become the first Democrat in more than four decades to represent Virginia's 7th District in Congress. Win McNamee/Getty

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Four years ago, Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) dethroned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor as part of the Tea Party revolution that would eventually topple Speaker of the House John Boehner and pave the way for Donald Trump’s presidential bid.

Now former CIA agent Abigail Spanberger has defeated Brat and will be the first Democratic representative from Virginia’s 7th District in more than four decades, NBC News and the Cook Political Report confirmed Tuesday night. Brat, once the darling of Breitbart and the insurgent conservative movement, aligns with the far-right House Freedom Caucus. 

In recent weeks, pollsters had identified the 7th District, which stretches across central Virginia and includes the suburbs of Richmond, as a potential bellwether for a Democratic “blue wave,” given its large population of college-educated women. “It’s a good early test of how far the ‘suburban revolt’ will take Democrats,” Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report told NBC News on Monday

Since a federal court redrew the boundaries of the district in 2016, a Democratic victory became more possible there. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, sounded the alarm for Republicans during a recent visit in support of Brat. “If we lose this district we’re going to lose the House of Representatives,” Bannon said in comments reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “There’s no doubt. This is an absolute bellwether of the entire country.”

Democrats did in fact win the House Tuesday night. 

Polls showed the race tightening for weeks, with a Christopher Newport University poll released last week that found Spanberger leading by one point. A month earlier, Monmouth University had her up by five points. With support from the national Democratic Party, Spanberger raised more than twice as much as Brat, a former economics professor from Randolph-Macon College. She has been endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), and a laundry list of state lawmakers. Her campaign, which had showcased her national security bona fides, received an unexpected and unwanted burst of publicity in August when a super PAC aligned with House Republican leadership acquired her application for a federal security clearance. The release of the highly-classified information startled Spanberger, who worked as an intelligence officer overseas for eight years.

“I am proud of my background and my service, and not ashamed of the information I submitted,” she told supporters after the leak was disclosed. “I have nothing to hide in my background. But, as any American in a similar situation would be, I am concerned about my privacy and security.”

As the results come in, we want to hear from you. How are you reacting? Do you have a message for the winner? Let us know by filling out the form below, send us an email at talk@motherjones.com, or leave us a voicemail at (510) 519-MOJO. We may use some of your responses in a follow-up story.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate