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Congressional races about to heat up in Virginia

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(The Center Square) — Virginia’s congressional races will soon heat up, as competitors must declare their candidacy by April 15 to make June’s primary ballot.

The seats for districts seven and 10 will be the most competitive, with Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7, declaring a run for governor and Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10, not seeking reelection due to illness.

Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-2, may also have a tough fight on her hands; Republicans have won the district more often than Democrats in recent history, and some sources indicate that redistricting in 2020 gave the district a heavier Republican lean. However, Kiggans’ predecessor, Elaine Luria, was a Democrat elected in 2018 and reelected in 2020, and Kiggans won by less than 4% in 2022.

Including Independents, almost 40 candidates have tossed their hats in the ring for districts seven and 10, according to Ballotpedia. Seven Democrats and eight Republicans are running for the seventh district; 13 Democrats and seven Republicans are competing for the tenth district.

Of the commonwealth’s 11 congressional districts, The Virginia Public Access Project has deemed only these two as competitive based on their outcomes in the two biggest elections since redistricting: The 2021 gubernatorial election and the most recent congressional election in 2022.

Spanberger’s district went to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2021, 52-47%, but Spanberger won by about the same margin in 2022. Wexton’s District 10 leans farther blue. Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe won Wexton’s district by less than 2% in 2021; Wexton won by more than 6% in 2022.

Of the Democrats running for the seventh district, Elizabeth Guzman and Brianna Sewell have experience as state legislators. Guzman served as a delegate from 2018-24 but lost to Sen. Jeremy McPike when she attempted to run for state Senate in 2023. Sewell is a new delegate who was elected to office in November.

Eugene Vindman is also a recognized name on the Democratic side – he and his brother blew the whistle on former President Donald Trump for “attempt[ing] to extort our ally, Ukraine, unless it investigated his political rival, Joe Biden,” according to Vindman’s campaign website. He and his family emigrated from Ukraine in 1979. Vindman served in the U.S. military for 25 years and as a legal advisor on the National Security Council when he reported on Trump – which led to Trump’s first impeachment.

Vindman leads all other candidates (both parties) for the seventh district in fundraising by about $1.5 million.

None of the Republican candidates have held a state office before, though some have previously run. Several have had extensive military careers and have worked for federal agencies like the U.S. Department of State, Homeland Security or Education. Derrick Anderson, a lawyer and former member of the special forces, leads in Republican fundraising at just over $460,000.

District 10 will see many locally high-profile Democrats vie for its seat: State Sen. Jennifer Boysko, former Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, Dels. Dan Helmer, Michelle Maldonado and David Reid, and Sen. Suhas Subramanyam. Filler-Corn served the longest in the state Legislature, with 14 years as a delegate. Boysko has served as a senator since 2020, with four years in the House of Delegates before that.

Most of the Republican candidates have run for the seat previously, but Aliscia Andrews was the only primary nominee. She lost in a match-up with Wexton in 2020 by more than 10%. A Marine Corps veteran and the director of Northern Virginia for Youngkin’s political action committee Spirit of Virginia, Andrews served as the state Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and was the state’s first Deputy Secretary of Cybersecurity.

In 2023’s General Assembly general election, when all 140 seats of the state Legislature were up for reelection, the Virginia Public Access Project had labeled seven House of Delegates and four Senate races competitive. Republicans ultimately won seven of the 11 contests, but the average margin of victory for all races was just over 3%.

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