Democrat Abigail Spanberger on Tuesday defeated GOPRep. Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District race — a major pick-up for Democrats in the Republican-leaning seat that the GOP had held for close to 50 years.
Multiple networks called the race for Ms. Spanberger shortly before midnight. With nearly all precincts reporting, she held a 50 percent to 49 percent lead over Mr. Brat. But that margin separates the two candidates by less than 5,000 votes.
Mr. Brat is not yet conceding defeat, but Ms. Spanberger told reporters he’s welcome to make whatever decisions he wants.
“My first priority is really to ensure that we’re restoring the trust that people have in their elected officials, and so I would like to see us work on campaign finance reform and good governance issues,” she said.
Mr. Brat, an economics professor who famously ousted then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary, could have had an easier time running for re-election in a GOP-leaning district that stretches from the Richmond area up near D.C.’s outer suburbs.
Yet Ms. Spanberger, a former CIA case officer, leveraged her national-security bona fides and momentum behind female candidates in 2018 to pull out the win.
She accused Mr. Brat of mimicking Mr. Trump’s strident style and being too focused on the GOP base instead of bread-and-butter issues like health care.
Mr. Brat, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, focused on core Republican issues like the tax-cut bill and border security.
But some have posited that lingering bad blood within the GOP over Mr. Cantor’s loss could have hindered Mr. Brat’s support among some Republicans.