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by Brandon Jarvis

Congressional campaigns are kicking off across Virginia with candidates not knowing exactly where they might be running when the districts are finalized. The redistricting process that should have already been completed earlier this year has yet to take place and it is unclear how long the process will take with the Supreme Court of Virginia currently examining special master map drawing nominees.

Virginia’s seventh congressional district is a top target for Republicans heading into the 2022 midterms and several Republicans are seeking the nomination to run against Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Henrico). Those candidates are spread out across the district, however, leaving a lot of uncertainty as to who will actually live in the same district as Spanberger.

Taylor Keeney, a Goochland resident and former staffer for Gov. Bob McDonnell announced earlier this year that she is running against Spanberger. “We can’t keep putting up retread candidates and expect a different result. To win the 7th District we need a fresh voice, outsider, and someone with experience in the district who can bring all different types of people together,” Keeney said of her candidacy.  

Keeney’s home in Goochland is adjacent to Spanberger’s in Henrico, making it likely that they will be drawn into the same district. But there is no way to know just where the lines will be with the potential of the fifth district on the western border of the seventh absorbing part of Spanberger’s area. 

Being drawn into a surrounding district represented by a Republican would leave candidates in a tough situation: deciding between shutting down their campaign or primarying a sitting member from their own party. “I don’t know,” Keeney said when asked if she would run against a sitting member of Congress from her own party. “To get rid of a suburban Richmond district, like the Redistricting Commission maps were doing, seems unlikely – redistricting should keep communities of interest together.”

State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) has filed her paperwork to run against Spanberger but has yet to formally announce her candidacy as she waits for redistricting to be complete. “We just want to be ready for anything,” Chase said about filing the paperwork to run already.. “I am going to do what is best for the people and just see where the lines lay.” 

Chase has been in the state Senate since 2015 serving Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, and Amelia. She says she has let everyone in the district know that she is not backing down, just waiting for the lines. 

“I have already let people know that I welcome the challenge, I know the district better than anyone else,” she said referencing her work for past Republican Congressmen Dave Brat, Eric Cantor, and Randy Forbes. “I have served that area already, so I am looking forward to it.” 

In addition to Chase and Keeney, state Del. John McGuire (Goochland), state Sen. Bryce Reeves (Spotsylvania), and 2020 candidate Tina Ramirez (Chesterfield) have filed to run against Spanberger. McGuire and Ramirez declined to comment for this article. Reeves did not respond to a request. 

Keeney says that no matter where the lines are drawn, it will take a certain type of candidate to win as a Republican in Virginia, perhaps a nod to the current Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin after he just delivered the GOP their first statewide win since 2009. 

Chase also took notice of Youngkin’s victory and the suburban voters who returned to the Republican Party after leaving between 2016 and 2020. “I am a suburban mom,” Chase said. “I know the issues that concern the suburban moms and that is really the swing vote that you have to win in order to win the seventh district.”

Ramirez is also a suburban, single mother seeking the Republican nomination. 

Spanberger, herself is a suburban mom that flipped a seat formerly held by Republicans for decades. She then won again in 2020 with a slightly larger margin over state Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper). 

But national politics are not looking favorable for the two-term Democrat and the results of the governor’s race on Nov. 2 also provided a grim foresight into the future. The Virginia Public Access Project released a visual showing that Youngkin won Spanberger’s district comfortably. 

“Anyone who says that they know what is happening with redistricting is lying,” said a Republican strategist involved with congressional campaigns in Virginia. “Everything is off the table with these congressional lines.”

Virginia Scope is an independent news publication that is funded largely by donations and subscribers. As local newsrooms are losing writers each day, we are trying to fill the void to ensure that the public is informed and that leaders are held accountable for their actions. Please consider becoming a paid subscriber to our newsletter or making a donation through Paypal below so we can continue to work in Virginia. 


By vascope

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