Youngkin and Vega celebrate the Republican primary triumph of Prince William’s supervisor | Local News
from LEADS AND STAFF REPORTS
On Wednesday, GOP candidate Yesli Vega celebrated her victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary by appearing with Gov. Glenn Youngkin at a restaurant in Woodbridge.
She was cheered on by cheering supporters to win her party’s 7th congressional district race, making her the standard bearer who will challenge U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, this fall.
“I am honored that the voters of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District have chosen me to be the Republican nominee in this fall’s general election,” Vega said in a statement late Tuesday night. “As the first conservative Hispanic to win a Republican congressional primary in Virginia, this is a historic moment for Hispanics in Virginia and our country. I want to thank my family, friends, volunteers and all voters who believe in our message of freedom, security and economic prosperity.
“We have taken our first step,” she continued. “Now is the time to bring everyone together, Republicans and Democrats, because inflation does not discriminate. There is no Democratic cutback at the gas pump or the grocery store, and everyone is a victim of anarchy. Tonight we celebrate; tomorrow we aim to retake the 7th and win in November!
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The Prince William County supervisor clinched his party’s nomination in Tuesday’s low turnout six-candidate primary, anticipating a general election showdown with a stark ideological contrast between the conservative brandon and the centrist Democratic incumbent.
Vega’s nomination to a redesigned district in Northern Virginia sets up what will likely be one of the most closely watched contests in the country, a key to the battle for control of the United States House of Representatives.
Vega outplayed her rivals at Prince William, where she works as a deputy sheriff, and held off a surprising challenge from political outsider Derrick Anderson. Vega led by about 5 percentage points when the final votes were counted. Anderson, a lawyer and former Green Beret, won his home county of Spotsylvania, home of state Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania.
Reeves, in her third term in the Virginia Senate, had entered the election as an apparent favorite but finished a distant third, ahead of Stafford board chairwoman Crystal Vanuch. Spotsylvania supervisor David Ross and Prince William’s educator Gina Ciarcia finished fifth and sixth respectively.
Vega carried Orange, Culpeper, Greene and Prince William counties.
In Culpeper County, with 17 of 18 precincts reporting Wednesday, Vega won 32% of the tally with 1,051 votes, Anderson won 30% with 981 votes, Reeves won 21% with 701 votes, Vanuch got 8.4 % with 276 votes, Ross won 4.4 percent with 146 votes and Ciarcia won 3.5 percent with 114 votes, according to the National Board of Elections. In Culpeper, more than 3,269 people voted in those 17 precincts, the council’s website says.
“It went well,” Culpeper County Registrar of Electors James Clements said of primary election day. “We have a great team of election officials who all worked together to make the day go well for Culpeper voters.”
In the fundraiser, Reeves led the field of six Republican candidates with more than $680,000 through June 1, but Vega relied on his support for Prince William, who holds the largest number of voters in the newly drawn 7th District.
She also relied on endorsements from conservative Republicans aligned with former President Donald Trump—Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who campaigned for her on Monday; Rep. Bob Good, R-5e, member of the House Freedom Caucus; and former Rep. Dave Brat, R-7e, who lost his seat to Spanberger in 2018.
“It’s very clear that Vega is trying to build his entire campaign on the far-right segment of the Republican Party,” said Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington.
“It makes sense for the primary … but it creates general election liabilities,” Farnsworth said on the eve of the primary.
The Virginia Supreme Court approved the district’s new boundaries on December 28, moving its base from the Richmond suburb of Henrico and Chesterfield counties to Northern Virginia and the Fredericksburg area. Spanberger faced no opposition for the Democratic nomination for a third term in the 7th, even though she lives in west Henrico and has not publicly committed to moving to the new district.
It was a bitter loss for Reeves, who tried to stay above the fray but blamed his defeat on negative publicity from his opponents.
“We played the game with honor,” he told disappointed fans gathered at a restaurant in downtown Fredericksburg. They included Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, who was the Republican nominee in a narrow election loss to Spanberger in 2020.
Reeves had claimed an advantage within the boundaries of the newly drawn 7th District, which includes much of his Fredericksburg-area Senate district, including his home in Spotsylvania County. It also includes parts of Prince William County, where he worked as a police officer and detective, and Stafford County, where his insurance office is located.
“I couldn’t have worked harder,” he said in an interview,
But Vega received around 52% of the vote in Prince William, taking away his Anderson past.
Of the. Tara Durant, R-Stafford, who had backed Reeves, said Spanberger should “absolutely be worried” about Vega’s victory at the Republican nomination.
“His seat is in serious jeopardy with Yesli Vega as the candidate,” Durant said.
Anderson played his part as a political underdog, but raised nearly $600,000 through June 1, trailing only Reeves. He argued during the campaign that he offered the best chance of defeating Spanberger, a former CIA case operative and criminal investigator for the U.S. Postal Service, because of his military background.
Veteran Richmond political commentator Bob Holsworth said ahead of the election that Spanberger might prefer to run against Vega in a district that leans Democratic but voted last fall for Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor.
“That’s probably the kind of race Spanberger would like to run,” Holsworth said.
In a statement ahead of the primary results, Spanberger said one of the potential GOP nominees was “too extreme.”
Each, she said, had “not come up with a plan to solve the problems facing Virginians.”
“Instead, they all promised to criminalize women’s right to choose and destroy the right to privacy, dismantle the Affordable Care Act and pander to mega-donors and the gun lobby. , rather than protecting our families and law enforcement with common sense proposals to prevent gun violence,” the two-term lawmaker continued.
“Virginians will have a clear choice this fall,” Spanberger said. “I look forward to debating the issues with my opponent and winning re-election.”
Clements, the Culpeper Registrar, shares some updates for people looking ahead to this fall’s general election.
“We would like to remind everyone that our office is not open for voting on Election Day. Our office on Main Street is the location for early voting, which ends the Saturday before each election,” he said. “We had voters from all over the county come to our office to vote yesterday because they had done so during the early voting period for the past few years. We wish we could have spared them the trip to town.
Clements said that for people who don’t know where their polling place is on Election Day, the State Department of Elections should send new voter notices to all registered voters this summer, with information about their vote place.
“Please seek out this notice and save it for reference for the November 8, 2022 election,” he advised.
Richmond Times-Dispatch writer Michael Martz and Culpeper Star-Exponent writer Clint Schemmer contributed to this report.