Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger draws prominent GOP challenger in first reelection bid


State Del. Nick Freitas announced his candidacy for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, joining a crowded Republican field seeking the right to challenge first-term Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

Freitas, a former Green Beret and two-tour Iraq veteran, is running in the central Virginia district, which Spanberger, 40, won in 2018, defeating Republican incumbent Dave Brat by 1.9%. Several other Republicans are already running, including state Del. John McGuire.

The district is emblematic of Republican woes throughout Virginia in recent years, including Democrats winning complete control of state government in 2019. Brat won his seat by defeating then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 2014 Republican primary, emphasizing immigration and economic issues. President Trump in 2016 beat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the district 50% to 44%. The district has a Republican edge of 6 points, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index.

A three-term Republican incumbent in Virginia’s House of Delegates, Freitas, in November, was forced to run a write-in campaign after a paperwork error led to state officials rejecting his late-candidacy filing.

Freitas’s campaign staff worried voters might have trouble spelling his last name and published ads showing how to do so correctly. Freitas defeated Democrat Ann Ridgeway by more than 4,000 votes.

The libertarian-leaning delegate is seen as a rising political star on the Right, advocating a noninterventionist foreign policy, opposing abortion, and voting against gun control measures. He ran for Senate in 2018, losing the Republican primary by 1.7% to Trump supporter and Confederate statue-enthusiast Corey Stewart. In that campaign, Freitas received endorsements from Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.

Announcing his congressional bid Monday, Freitas chided Spanberger for supporting an impeachment investigation of Trump over the Ukraine military aid affair.

“We need leaders in Washington with the courage to stand up for the founding principles and constitutional rights that have allowed our country to be great,” Freitas said. “The 7th District deserves a conservative representative who will work to get things done rather than focusing on the impeachment circus.”

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