Results came in Tuesday night after Virginia voters chose candidates to fill party ballot slots in House districts and a local race.
In most of the districts, the races were either uncontested or decided in party-run events such as conventions or firehouse primaries last month. But a few races were contested in the D.C. area, and one remained neck-and-neck for hours.
Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega has been projected by the Associated Press as the winner of the Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of Prince William, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Culpeper counties.
Vega topped a six-candidate field for the chance to take on incumbent Democrat Abigail Spanberger in the fall, beating state Sen. Bryce Reeves; Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chair Crystal Vanuch; Spotsylvania County supervisor David Ross; Derrick Anderson, a veteran who touted his endorsement from U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas; and political outsider Gina Ciarcia.
With 203 of 213 precincts reporting, Vega is leading with 28.95% of the vote; Anderson has 23.76%, while Reeves has 20.11%, Vanuch has 16.96%, Ross has 6.06% and Ciarcia has 4.16%.
In a statement, Vega thanked her supporters, saying her win was “a historic moment for Hispanics across Virginia and our nation.”
“Now it is time to bring everyone, Republican and Democrat, together because inflation doesn’t discriminate,” she said in a statement.
Anderson said via Twitter that he had called to congratulate Vega, adding that “she has my full support in beating Abigail Spanberger.”
WTOP Capitol Hill Correspondent Mitchell Miller called Vega “a formidable Republican candidate.” The 7th District was entirely reshaped thanks to redistricting, which shifted it away from the Richmond suburbs. It now covers a stretch of cities and counties between Charlottesville and the Washington suburbs. Spanberger, Miller pointed out, no longer lives in the district.
Born in Texas to immigrant parents from El Salvador, Vega helped run Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Latino voter coalition during his campaign last year. She’s worked as a police officer and sheriff’s deputy and currently serves as an auxiliary deputy in the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office. Former President Donald Trump in 2020 appointed her to the President’s Advisory Commission on Hispanic Prosperity.
She’s also been endorsed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, as well as Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has been implicated in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
Vega told WTOP News’ partners NBC Washington that she is ready to work with people of “all walks of life” and called out her new Democratic rival “Downtown Abby.”
“That’s who she is…because the Abigail Spanberger that goes down to Washington, D.C., and votes with [President Joe] Biden and Nancy Pelosi every step of the way is very different than the Abigail Spanberger who is campaigning right now because it is election time,” Vega said.
The Democratic Party of Virginia has previously criticized Vega for her characterization of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. During a candidate forum, Vega described the violence at the Capitol as “a group of Americans exercising their 1st Amendment rights.”
Vega was in the news last week after she claimed a librarian in a Prince William County school had read “a homosexual romance” to the children. She didn’t specify the school or the book, but the principal of a school in the county wrote to parents that a book was read in their library that was age-appropriate.
Spanberger said in a statement that “each of my potential Republican opponents has proven to be far too extreme and has failed to offer any kind of plan to tackle the problems facing Virginians.” She pointed to the struggles over abortion, guns and health care, and said “I look forward to debating the issues with my opponent and winning reelection.”
In the 2nd District, which runs along the Eastern Shore and Virginia Beach, the Associated Press has projected that state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans has won the Republican primary over Tommy Altman, Andy Baan and Jarome Bell.
With 229 of 236 precincts reporting, Kiggans is leading with 55.64%; Bell has 27.12%, Altman has 14.29% and Baan has 2.95%.
Kiggans will take on Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in November.
Kiggans is a former Navy helicopter pilot and a geriatric nurse practitioner who has served in the state Senate since 2020. She said in a statement that “This is our chance to retake control of our country. It’s time to restore American strength in our economy, at our borders, and on the world stage.”
“Joe Biden’s disastrous policies are on the ballot this November, and in the 2nd District, these policies go by the name of Elaine Luria,” Kiggans told an energetic crowd of supporters who gathered at a tavern in Virginia Beach.
Luria, also a Navy veteran, is on the Jan. 6 committee investigating the 2021 attack on the Capitol and has cultivated a congressional identity as a centrist. She said in a statement that “I will continue to be an independent voice in Congress to strengthen our national security, protect our democracy and find real solutions that combat rising costs for Coastal Virginians.”
Luria’s campaign manager, Kate Fegley, said in a statement that Kiggans was a “political opportunist” and “election denier.” In recent interviews, Kiggans has declined to say whether President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.
Miller said it will be “one of the most closely watched races in the country.” Republicans think they can take a 30- to 40-seat advantage in the House after November, “and this is one of the seats that they think they can pick off.”
The district, already leaning slightly Republican, was redrawn after the 2020 census and is more so.
Spanberger and Luria are rated as two of the most vulnerable Democratic members of the House.
A former CIA case officer, Spanberger, like Luria, flipped a competitive GOP-held seat in 2018 and is now competing under lines that Gov. Glenn Youngkin would have won, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.
The Associated Press projected that Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, has fended off a primary challenge from Victoria Virasingh in the 8th Congressional District.
Beyer will face Republican Karina Lipsman, who won a Republican convention last month. The district includes parts of Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria and Falls Church.
In a statement, Beyer said he was “grateful to voters in Northern Virginia” and thanked Virasingh “for her spirited challenge, and for her commitment to progressive ideals we both share.”
He added that the election constituted “a stark contrast between those who believe in building a strong and equitable economy, protecting our democracy, confronting the threat of climate change, making health care and housing more affordable, protecting Americans from gun violence, and protecting a woman’s right to choose, and those who do not.”
“This is a challenging moment for the Democratic Party, and I look forward to throwing myself into that fight and making the case for equality, shared prosperity, and progress,” Beyer said.
With 177 precincts of 182 reporting, Beyer leads, 77.82% to 22.18%.
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Local and across Virginia
There’s one D.C.-area local race in Tuesday’s primary: The Democratic primary for Manassas City Council has four candidates seeking three spots on the November ballot — Dheeraj “DJ” Jagadev, incumbent Ralph J. Smith, Robert R. Keller and Sonia R. Vasquez Luna.
With eight precincts out of nine reporting, Vasquez Luna leads with 29.60% of the vote; Smith comes second with 28.61%, Jagadev is third with 24.09% and Keller has 17.71%.
Elsewhere in the commonwealth, Democratic Herb Jones and Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Wittman in the 1st; Luria in the 2nd; Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott in the 3rd; Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin and Republican challenger Leon Benjamin in the 4th; Democratic challenger Joshua Throneburg in the 5th; Spanberger in the 7th; Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith in the 9th; Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton in the 10th, and Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly in the 11th Congressional District ran unopposed and have won their primaries, The Associated Press says.
Rep. Ben Lee Cline has defeated challenger Merritt Hale in the Republican primary in the 6th District, the AP said. Cline will face Democratic challenger Jennifer Lewis and independent Danny LeBeau in November. And Terry Namkung has defeated Ted Engquist in the Republican primary in the 3rd District; he’ll take on Scott in November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.