Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger narrowly held onto her seat in Virginia on Tuesday, defeating Republican Yesli Vega in a contest both parties saw as an early bellwether in the battle for the House.
But in a second closely watched district, Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans ousted Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va.
Despite the split, the political survival of Spanberger, a prominent player among the small band of moderate Blue Dog Democrats, counted as a welcome burst of good news for Democrats relatively early on election night.
Spanberger, who often criticized progressives’ strategy and then voted with them on the House floor, was a face and voice of the 2018 Democratic class of freshman whose midterm victories put their party in the majority. She made waves after the 2020 election when she blamed her party’s left flank for losses in the House, arguing that calls to “defund” law enforcement cost seats.
Vega, a member of the Prince William board of county supervisors, served as a police officer before entering politics. Like many Republicans across the country, she hit the Democratic incumbent on inflation and crime.
The results in Virginia, a state that favored the Democrat in the last four presidential elections but easily elected Republican Glenn Youngkin governor last year, signaled better-than-expected strength for Democrats in swing districts.