Spanberger to Seek Reelection in Virginia’s New 7th Congressional District
WASHINGTON — A day after the Virginia Supreme Court approved a new House district map that substantially redefines the area she represents, Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger announced she’s all in for a reelection bid in 2022.
“Nearly 200,000 Virginians in the new 7th District have already been my constituents under the current district lines, and I look forward to continuing my service representing them as well as my future constituents,” Spanberger said in a statement Wednesday.
“I will continue to work hard on behalf of their families, their businesses, their farms and our local economies in the years to come. Much like the current 7th District, the new 7th District includes a diverse mix of Virginia’s suburban, rural, and military communities,” she said.
The initial map for the new congressional districts moved the 7th C.D. from central Virginia to the northern part of the state.
While the map approved Tuesday doesn’t make so dramatic a change — the revisions are significant.
For instance, the new map no longer includes the western Henrico suburbs, where Spanberger lives, or western Chesterfield.
Those Richmond-area suburbs, considered Spanberger’s base during her two previous congressional races, are now in the 1st Congressional District, which is currently represented by Republican Rep. Rob Wittman.
The new 7th District now stretches from Caroline County to Madison County and includes the city of Fredericksburg and Dale City.
Because of her electoral strength in the communities drawn out of the 7th District, there was speculation that Spanberger would challenge Wittman in the 1st District.
But members of Congress are not required to live in the districts they represent, and as a result, she can avoid what would likely have been a bruising battle between incumbents.
“With the new congressional boundaries now finalized, I look forward to earning the support of new constituents as I campaign for re-election across Virginia’s 7th District. I will forever be grateful to the Virginians who elected me in 2018 and 2020, as well as to everyone I have had the honor of meeting and serving across Virginia’s 7th District,” Spanberger said.
The Virginia Supreme Court intervened in the state’s once-a-decade redistricting process after a bipartisan commission failed to overcome partisan disagreements on the maps it reviewed.
The court appointed two “special masters,” one nominated by Democrats and the other nominated by Republicans to help with the process.
It then held two public meetings and collected written comments, and new draft maps were submitted to the court on Dec. 20.
Before the final maps were approved, members of the public expressed concerns that splitting the Richmond-area suburbs into different districts would break up the communities of interest and dilute their votes.
In a memo accompanying the final maps, which were submitted to the court on Monday, special masters Sean Trende and Bernard Grofman said that “over the past few weeks, we have listened to the voices of dozens of Virginians, read thousands of their comments, and consulted with this court.”
“We have done our best to incorporate the comments that we received, and we are now pleased to present this court with the final version of our maps for its review,” they said.
And in the end, they decided to leave the Richmond suburbs in the new 1st Congressional District.
In their memo, Trende and Grofman wrote they believe Democrats would have an edge in six of the state’s 11 congressional seats, with the 2nd District being the one toss-up.
Spanberger’s wasn’t the only district to be substantially revised.
The 2nd District, represented by Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., was drawn out of the city of Norfolk and now includes Suffolk and a part of Southampton.
And Virginia’s 5th District, represented by Republican Rep. Bob Good, now includes Louisa, Goochland and Fluvanna counties.
The western portion of Hanover County is also now in the new 5th District.
This year’s map-making process was the first in which the state’s elected officials had absolutely no say in how the maps would turn out.
Tired of partisan gerrymandering, Virginia voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of a bipartisan redistricting commission to oversee the redrawing of district lines based on the latest U.S. Census data.
After months of work, however, the commission made up of eight lawmakers and eight citizen members reached a partisan deadlock and abandoned the effort without submitting new maps to the state legislature.
Like the congressional district map, the maps approved for Virginia Senate and House of Delegate districts also appear to give Democrats an edge.
Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.