Louisa County voters have a chance next week to participate in two Congressional races that have drawn national attention.
The Democratic primary on June 12 to choose a nominee in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District pits Abigail Spanberger, a Short Pump native, against Dan Ward of Orange. The winner will face Republican Dave Brat, who took office in 2014.
On the Republican side, voters will choose a candidate to challenge Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, who ran for vice president in 2016. The challengers include Nick Freitas, who represents Culpeper in the Virginia House of Delegates, Corey Stewart of Prince William County, and E.W. Jackson, a minister from Hampton Roads.
National observers have said the 7th Congressional race is an important one to watch as President Donald Trump approaches the middle of his first term. Brat, the incumbent, was elected as part of the Tea Party wave and has been a strong supporter of the president.
Spanberger drew attention early in the House of Representatives race as part of a movement of liberal women candidates opposed to Trump. In recent mailings to voters, she has said she won’t take money from corporate political action committees and vowed to defend women’s reproductive rights.
In one flier, she criticized politicians who take money from and are “doing the bidding of” prescription drug manufacturers, health insurers and the National Rifle Association.
“I won’t take one dime of corporate PAC money,” she stated.
Both she and Ward have spoken strongly of the need for more gun control in the wake of mass shootings at public high schools in Florida and Texas. Spanberger said during a forum at the Mineral VFW in March she supports removing guns from people who have made threats of violence, as was the case prior to some recent school shootings.
She and Ward both back a bill in Congress that would ban people from buying assault weapons, though Ward has been much more vocal about the issue. He aired a television ad recently in which he hoisted an AR-15 rifle, used in several prominent school shootings, vowing to ban it from public use.
Ward also released a second television ad in which he highlighted his concern for working people’s issues, noting he lived his early years in a house in rural Tennessee with no running water.
“Washington doesn’t give a damn, but I do,” he said.
Spanberger is a former CIA agent and Ward was a Marine Corps pilot. Both have leaned on that experience to play up their qualifications to serve.
Ward has matched Spanberger in fundraising since they entered the contest in 2017, with both surpassing $900,000, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Ward garnered endorsements from Louisa County Supervisor Fitzgerald Barnes (Patrick Henry district) and Spring Creek resident Janelle Noble, who was briefly a candidate for the 7th district seat. Spanberger is endorsed by Jack Trammell of Mineral and Eileen Bedell, the last two candidates to oppose Brat in 2014 and 2016.
In the Senate race, Freitas has backing from several Louisa County officials, including Supervisors Troy Wade, Tori Williams and Duane Adams; Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire and local Republican Party Chairman Graven Craig.
Freitas opposed the vote last week in the General Assembly to expand Medicaid access to more residents, and says he will fight to repeal Obamacare if elected. A former Green Beret, he has cast himself as a supporter of individual liberty and limited government.
Stewart has drawn attention to himself by calling for aggressive curbs on immigration and defending Confederate monuments. Jackson, who was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013, is a former talk radio host who has emphasized the importance of Judeo-Christian values in politics.
Kaine, who was elected to the Senate in 2012, met with Louisa County Democrats at the Louisa Arts Center last month. It was his first visit to the county.
Polls open at 6 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. Voters will need to present photo identification in order to cast ballots. Information on where to vote can be found at www.louisacounty.com/1142/Voting-Districts-and-Precincts.