The polls are closing; eyes turn to two districts in Northern Virginia | Securities
As polls closed in the 2022 congressional election, eyes turned to results in two districts in Northern Virginia and Piedmont considered critical if Republicans are to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. .
The closest battle in the area was between Democratic incumbent Abigail Spanberger and Republican challenger Yesli Vega in the 7th District, which includes eastern Prince William County and all of Stafford County. More than $25 million was spent on the race by candidates and other supporters.
Spanberger, who was first elected in 2018, ran for office in the district even though she lives in Henrico County, just outside of Richmond, which moved to the 1st District after the 2020 census. The 1st District is represented by fellow Republican Rob Wittman, but members of Congress need not live in the districts they represent.
Vega, a member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, campaigned aggressively, with frequent appearances from Gov. Glenn Youngkin and other well-known Republicans, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Vega would be Virginia’s first Hispanic representative to Congress.
Prince William areas in the district generally vote Democratic, so Spanberger will need to take a big lead there in order to offset the advantage Vega is likely to have in the more Republican areas of the district of Stafford, Culpeper and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, another 2018 Democratic winner, Jennifer Wexton, was trying to retain her seat in the 10th District against Republican challenger Hung Cao. The 10th is centered in Loudoun County, which makes up about half of the district, and also includes all of Fauquier and Rappahannock counties, the towns of Manassas and Manassas Park, western Prince William, and a small portion of southern Fairfax County.
Wexton ousted then-incumbent Barbara Comstock in 2018 and easily won re-election two years ago, but the district has become less reliably Democratic in the redistricting because most of Fairfax’s precincts have been moved from it. Cao is a military veteran seeking his first elected position.
Loudoun has had a Democratic lean in recent years, and Wexton will likely need to win that county by a significant margin to offset Cao’s likely advantage elsewhere. Demonstrating the importance of the races to Democrats, First Lady Jill Biden made a campaign appearance with Wexton on Monday in the Ashburn neighborhood of Loudoun.
In his latest pre-election forecast, University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato said the 7th District race tilts toward Spanberger, while the 10th District will likely remain in Democratic hands.
Democrats currently hold 220 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and Republicans have 212, with three vacancies. The US Senate is split 50-50 (two independent caucuses with Democrats), but Democrats control the chamber as Vice President Kamala Harris can vote in the event of a tie.
In Prince William on Tuesday afternoon, several voters told InsideNoVa that they decided which candidate to support based on the economy.
“I think the economy and the general state of government right now is going in the wrong direction,” said Duane Dupon, who was voting at First Mount Zion Baptist Church.
At Woodbridge Middle School, another voter, Wilburn Vanover, said President Joe Biden failed in his first two years.
“I voted on school issues, the cost of everything going up, the cost of gas,” he added. “When some politicians are asked questions, they don’t answer them or follow through on their answers. So you have to do something to make something change.
By Monday, more than 940,000 Virginians had already voted by mail, in person or by mail. Of these, 97,000 were dumped in the 10th arrondissement and around 88,000 in the 7th arrondissement. In the 2021 gubernatorial election, nearly 1.2 million absentee ballots were cast statewide.
Prince William’s Registrar Eric Olsen said the in-person turnout at 1 p.m. Tuesday was 15%. Olsen said an additional 17% of county voters cast a ballot or voted early Friday. Olsen said about 8,000 of the ballots sent out for mail-in voting had yet to be returned Monday. Statewide, 98,000 absentee ballots had not been returned; ballots postmarked by today and received by Friday can be counted.
Elsewhere in Northern Virginia, Democratic Representatives Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly were easily up for reelection in the 8th and 11th congressional districts, respectively. Among local races in the area, Arlington voters were choosing a new county council member, Fairfax city voters were electing a new mayor, and two school board seats were up for grabs in Loudoun.
In Manassas, voters chose three city council members and three school board members, and the Prince William towns of Dumfries, Haymarket, Occoquan and Quantico also had local offices on the ballot.
InsideNoVa reporters Cameron Delean and Nolan Stout contributed to this article.