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By Brandon Jarvis

Governor Glenn Youngkin campaigned for VA-07 Republican nominee Yesli Vega on Monday night in front of a crowd of her supporters. Vega is running against Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) for the VA-07 seat in the House of Representatives. 

During her speech and introduction for Youngkin, Vega attacked Spanberger for backing out of the debate against her that would have been hosted by PWC100 and the League of Women Voters. “If you’re my opponent, and I’m her, I wouldn’t want to debate me either,” Vega said to the crowd. “What is she going to say about the economy? What is she going to say about the southern border? What is she going to say about wanting to put parents in jail for not conforming to woke culture.” 

The organizers of the debate released a statement Monday officially canceling the debate and blaming the campaigns for a lack of agreeance.

Photo posted by AP’s Sarah Rankin

According to communications between organizers that Virginia Scope has viewed, the latest and final breakdown in debate negotiations comes from the Spanberger campaign disagreeing with the right-wing radio host Larry O’Connor being selected as a moderator, as well as security measures at the event. The Vega campaign also originally sought to have WJLA, a Sinclair TV station in DC, be the host.

The Vega campaign event claims that they agreed to drop O’Connor as the moderator and that they did not care which station aired the debate just as long as it was televised. As far as security, the Vega campaign told Virginia Scope they would pay for security at the debate.

The Spanberger campaign says it was never relayed to them from organizers that the Vega campaign agreed to drop O’Connor as a moderator. The organizers have not responded to any inquiries from Virginia Scope. This was the last possibility for a debate between the two nominees as Vega had already turned down a debate with Mary Washington University last month.

Youngkin, upon taking the stage in Fredericksburg Monday night, continued the attacks on Spanberger over the debate drama. He described how he believes a debate would go, saying Vega would win on the first three questions – which he believes would be about inflation, defunding the police, and empowering parents. 

The governor compared the competition between Vega and Spanberger to a Nascar race. “You got Abigail Spanberger puttering around the track and then here comes Yesli on the outside,” Youngkin said to cheers from the crowd. “And guess what happens, there is a little bit of paint scraping right now. Guess what, the person who is willing to scrape some paint is going to win and that is Yesli Vega.”

Youngkin also repeated attacks on Spanberger that have mostly failed for her Republican opponents in the past. He said she supports Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time, even though Spanberger has never publicly supported Pelosi for leader and even called for new Democratic leadership last month. 

Youngkin encouraged the crowd of Vega supporters to volunteer to be poll watchers and he also urged them to vote early, something not incredibly common for Republican candidates but proved to be a successful strategy for him in 2021. 

In a moment that was reminiscent of Democratic efforts in 2018 and 2020, Youngkin also encouraged the Republican crowd to plant signs, get bumper stickers, wear hats, make phone calls, and write letters to increase turnout for Vega.

“We might as well all go ahead and put red vests on again,” Youngkin said, a nod to the clothing item that became heavily associated with him during his gubernatorial campaign and he has since embraced. “It is time for the red wave to crash across the seventh congressional district.”

According to analysis from VPAP,

  1. Glenn Youngkin won VA-07 with 52% of the vote in 2021
  2. Tim Kaine won VA-07 with 55% of the vote in 2018
  3. Ralph Northam won VA-07 with 52% of the vote in 2017

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By vascope