Election Coverage / Government Watch / Politics

Three Virginia House Races Could Define the Midterms

AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris


On election night seven weeks from now, Americans will likely have to look no further than three suburban districts in Virginia – the 2nd, 7th, and 10th, all currently controlled by Democrats – to see both if the GOP will succeed in retaking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and, if so, how big their majority will be.

If Republicans win none of these races, Democrats have a good chance of retaining control of the House and even expanding their majority. If Republicans win just one, who wins the majority is a toss-up and will likely be determined by just a few seats either way. If Republicans win two or all three, it is a safe bet that narratives of a Democratic “resurgence” were overblown, and the GOP is well on its way to a large majority.

Examining each of these races in turn and as a group provides valuable insight into both the dynamics at play in swing districts throughout the country, as well as internal shifts taking place in the Republican Party.

In Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, Republican state senator Jen Kiggans is taking on two-term incumbent Democrat Elaine Luria, who in 2018 defeated Republican Scott Taylor for the seat. The district encompasses Virginia’s Eastern Shore as well as Virginia Beach and several Norfolk suburbs. According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI), which measures how strongly a state or congressional district leans toward a certain party, VA-02 (which, along with every other district in the state, was redrawn following the 2020 census) has a score of R+2, making it one of the least partisan districts in the country, but also the most Republican of the three.

Looking back at electoral patterns in the 2nd district’s new boundaries, it is clear that both parties have reason to be optimistic for success elsewhere if they do well here. If the district had existed, it would have gone 55%-44% for Republican Glenn Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in last year’s gubernatorial contest. But three years earlier in 2018 – a good year for Democrats – Democrat Senator Tim Kaine won the same voters by a margin of 52%-45%. Virginia Beach, the district’s largest population center and home to a large military community went for Donald Trump in 2016, but Joe Biden in 2020.

Of particular interest in this race will be how voters react to Elaine Luria’s participation in Democrats’ January 6 Committee. Luria is the only Democrat on the panel who doesn’t represent a “safe” Democratic district. While Republicans have hammered Luria for engaging in a “partisan witch hunt,” Luria has fully embraced her role on the committee, even as the public sours on the proceedings that have now dragged on for more than a year.

In the Virginia 7th, a significantly redrawn district to the south of Arlington and Fairfax Counties, now comprised primarily of parts of Prince William County along with Stafford County, Spotsylvania County, and Culpeper County, former law enforcement officer and Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega is taking on incumbent Democrat Abigail Spanberger. Cook PVI currently rates the district as D+1, and both parties have devoted significant resources to winning the seat.

As the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants running in a district with a large Latino population relative to Virginia and the country, Republicans hope Vega will be another prime example of Latino realignment and a potential rising star within the GOP. Following Mayra Flores’ stunning upset victory in a Texas border district special election earlier this year, Republicans are betting that Latino candidates (and voters) like Vega will help the party retake control of Congress this fall.

The contest in VA-07 will also be a test of how voters are likely to react to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the power to legislate on abortion to the states. Following a number of statements by Vega in support of the pro-life movement at a campaign event earlier this year, Spanberger has made support for abortion central to her re-election campaign, attempting to brand Vega as an “anti-abortion radical.” Vega, meanwhile, has pointed out Spanberger’s past votes and statements in support of unrestricted abortion access, including in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Republicans face perhaps their biggest challenge in the Virginia 10th, where retired Navy Captain Hung Cao is taking on two-term incumbent Democrat Jennifer Wexton. Though Cook PVI rates this as the most difficult pickup for Republicans at D+6, Cao has by all accounts run an impressive campaign, and appears to be gaining momentum heading into the final weeks of the race. A refugee from Vietnam whose parents escaped shortly before the fall of Saigon in 1975, Cao’s personal story and unabashed patriotism has resonated with voters in a racially diverse district with a large immigrant population.

Anchored in Northern Virginia’s Loudoun County, the 10th District has also been ground zero for the national debate over Critical Race Theory and parents’ rights in education, an issue that has taken center stage in this race as well. “Parents play a leading role in their child’s health, wellness and education,” Cao tweeted recently. “Why does the Left continue to subvert parental involvement?” Cao has also held a number of rallies outside school board meetings and slammed Wexton for allowing Democrats to shut down schools for months. For Republicans hoping that education and other cultural issues will help boost them over the top in November, Cao’s race is one to watch.

In all three of these races, the Democratic incumbents have attempted to brand themselves as “moderates,” hoping to avoid the public’s ire with President Joe Biden and Democrats’ far-left policies. For the Republican challengers, a major key to success will be forcing Luria, Spanberger, and Wexton to own their voting record over the past two years. This Congress, Spanberger and Wexton have voted in line with Joe Biden 100% of the time, while Luria has voted with Biden 99% of the time. That voting record includes “yes” votes on legislation like the $1.9 trillion inflation-causing “American Rescue Plan,” the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” that is actually predicted to make inflation worse, and a litany of other radical bills, from a federal takeover of elections to taxpayer funding of abortion-on-demand up until (and in some cases even after) the moment of birth.

It will be up to Kiggans, Vega, and Cao, along with their campaign teams, to force their Democratic opponents to answer for these votes and refuse to allow them to hide behind a veil of moderation. If they can successfully do that and perform well on November 8, it bodes well for Republicans everywhere, likely paving the way for a large Republican majority come January 2023.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.

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6 months ago

The Democratic party is composed of the most ignorant, arrogant and self righteous people in society. There are no moderates in the party. Informed people know that a party that caters exclusively to Negroes, leftist Jews, feminists, gays, unions, Hollywood and the academy is not congenial to moderates at all. There are no Democrats who support restrictions on abortion, the right to work without being forced to join a union, voter ID laws, immigration enforcement, religious freedom, school choice or fracking. The Dems are an East and West coast party full of people with too much education, too little common sense and a lack of respect for those with more mainstream views. The need to be badly defeated. They are out of touch with middle America.

6 months ago
Reply to  fredwriter1961


6 months ago

Today worrying yourself sick about liberals and conservatives is just as stupid as worrying yourself sick over the Whig Party in 1853.
Politics will be an entirely different thing as Whites come to REALIZE that they are a threatened minority. That is what is happening now.
Diversity is a code word for White Genocide.

6 months ago
Reply to  Larkenson

Actually, white elite liberals are becoming the majority of the Democrat party. Trump did better with every demo in 2020 compared to 2016 except one group: Whites, specifically older white males. The Republican Party is actually becoming more diverse as it the party of working class white and Hispanics along with other working class minorities. The Democrats are the elitist party now as we are going through a total restructure of both parties.

6 months ago
Reply to  Larkenson

Every American citizen is threatened by the DemocRat politics, vote rigging, and full desire to “RULE” the Nation while pretending to “GOVERN” the Nation!

6 months ago

If Republicans do not get out to vote and if it is a fair election, we can take our country back to normal living and not all this turmoil

6 months ago

Let’s go America, we’ve had enough of the marxist democrat party garbage, THROW THEM OUT , Save America and Freedom!!
It’s Our Country ,it’s Our turn to STAND UP!

Johnny White
6 months ago

A voter no matter their politics should vote this time based on morality. Why? The Woke led and forced by the Dems is just plain and simple the destruction of mankind for the purpose of eventually a one world order with some supercharged power hungry egos at the top.
If this November elections result in a Red Sweep maybe America will be saved. If not, there will not be a recovery.

6 months ago

I am a born and raised Va, man now living in Ga, i sure would love to see that the folks at home have wised up to the socialist DemocRATS ,, and will get out there and vote as WE THE PEOPLE ,, not sheep being herded ,, i also hope we can do the same in Ga. and keep the governor and replace a senator

6 months ago
Reply to  mark

Ditto, also born and raised in Va, was a page in the Virginia Senate as a boy, now living in Georgia, Georgia reminds me of the old Virginia I once knew, Virginia needs to redraw the Northern Virginia line and carve it out and add it to the District of Columbia, which is a communist bunker. Hope Georgia can learn from Virginia’s errors.

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
6 months ago

Great goin Eva. I usta make 12 k a month on the comp at home. Now I set in prison makin 75 cents a day stamping out car tags. Kyle L.

anna hubert
6 months ago

How many times must people be hit over the head by 2by4 before they realize what is going on

6 months ago
Reply to  anna hubert

What’s the saying… “you can’t fix stupid”???
joebama and the marxist democrat party continue to lie and destroy America and some people don’t see what’s happening or choose not too??
How could ANYONE support this anti american,corrupt clown show???

6 months ago

Lets get real for a moment. If you believe the polls, races are close all over the country. If dem robots were gaining sentience in significant numbers we’d be seeing their candidates ten points behind. Perhaps the polls are lying but we have to assume the country is still evenly split in spite of a disastrous two yrs. The republican brand is weak because the party is full of rinos and never trumpers. In short, many still think in terms of mimicking dems. They’ll do progressivism slowly so no one will notice. Im still not sure they really want the majority which will come with a responsibility to undo dem damage.

Andrew P
6 months ago
Reply to  Morbious

The country is close all over because some groups (like Latinos) have moved to the GOP, but affluent White suburbanites are moving hard left to preserve access to abortion (particularly for their teenage daughters). So, there is likely to be a lot of surprises on election day.

6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew P

I hope one surprise is that people respect life, let individuals live with their conscience and stop using taxpayer monet to fund killing babies!
planned parenthood is a lie, after killing babies the marxist democrat party will be after Seniors, and others who they deem less than worthy of life.
Who the hell do these useless politicians think they are??
OUR Rights are God Given!
Politicians have NO RIGHTS to give, how arrogant and disgusting are these failures to even think such garbage????

6 months ago

It’s obvious, The democrat party has lost their collective minds. They have gone fishing without bait “to get Trump” to no avail. Shame on them !

Philip Hammersley
6 months ago

In IN we have a shot of capturing a long-held DIMM district (HD 1) this year with a strong GOP candidate. That district (being a “suburb” of Chicago) has a long history of voter fraud but we may be able to overcome it. That would leave only the district of a “legacy” grandson in DIMM hands!

Where are we going!?
6 months ago

a legacy grandson that makes me throw up in my mouth every time i hear him speak

6 months ago

I live in that district. I’m concerned that our GOP challenger is holding relatively few public events and is doing little to call out our current rep on votes that I do not think would play well in our district. Mrvan (and virtually all House Dems) has voted to sanction other countries that do not adhere to radical gender ideologies – let alone that these are morally wrong, but why are we trying to push this on other nations by threatening to withhold humanitarian aid from more culturally conservative – especially African, Latin American, and Asian; this is a traditional blue-collar Dem district, not a district that embraces cultural leftism.

Mrvan has not strongly supported law enforcement; supports Federal takeover of elections; and has participated in the Congress’ failure to hold the Biden administration accountable, allowing such things as the depletion of the Federal oil reserves (and consequent sales to China) and indoctrination in our armed forces which is harming recruitment and preparedness while China’s military gets even more powerful.

We also have one of the largest oil refineries in the nation which is the 3rd largest employer in the district. The Dems misguided push for green energy at all costs is not popular here and would have a long-term negative impact.

This is a district where white, non-college voters nearly make up a majority with significant black and Hispanic populations. Although both of the latter have been solid Democratic constituencies, between 2016-2020, local Hispanic majority precincts moved 10 or more percentage points towards the GOP and precincts that are 80+% black more than doubled their GOP numbers. With a highly intelligent (US Air Force Academy grad) black, conservative woman who has served as an Air Force fighter pilot as our nominee, this district is poised to flip if she connects with the voters.

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