Vulnerable House Dem Abandons Virginia Seat To Run for Governor

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (Getty Images)
November 13, 2023

Vulnerable House Democrat Abigail Spanberger (Va.) announced Monday that she will not seek reelection to her seat and instead will run for her state's governorship.

"I'm officially running to become the next Governor of Virginia," Spanberger wrote on X. "I'm a former CIA case officer, former federal agent, current Member of Congress, and mom to three great kids. I know that when we rise above the chaos and division, we can focus on what matters most to Virginians."

Spanberger was one of 29 representatives whom the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in March put on its "Frontline" list, which consists of "Democratic Members of Congress from the most competitive seats." Her seat, Virginia's Seventh Congressional District, has been a battleground district for the past few election cycles. In 2018, Spanberger flipped the seat blue from incumbent Rep. David Brat (R.), winning by just under 2 points. She won reelection in 2020 and 2022, beating Republican challengers by just under 2 points and just under 5 points in those respective elections.

In her video announcement on X, she attacked Republicans for tackling culture war issues and committed to focus her campaign on "what matters most" to her state's residents.

"While some politicians in Richmond focus on banning abortion and books," Spanberger said in the video announcement, "what they're not doing is helping people. I know how to bring people together and get real things done that improve lives. That's why I'm running for governor, because when we rise above the chaos and division, we can focus on what matters most to Virginians: lowering prescription drug prices, growing the middle class, lowering costs and easing inflation."

She added that there would be "no more using teachers and our kids as political pawns—it's about focusing on recruiting and retaining teachers so all of our kids can succeed and stopping extremists from shredding women's reproductive rights."

She also touted her record of finding "ways to bring people together and focus on what really matters: providing veterans with the support they need, supporting small businesses so they can grow, assisting families and communities struggling with addiction."

Spanberger has been a moderate voice in the Democratic Party during her time in Congress. In 2022, she, along with fellow vulnerable Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D., N.J.), introduced legislation that would fund grant programs for police departments to hire new officers. That bill failed, however, with then-speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) scrapping it, citing a lack of support.

The Common Ground Committee ranked her as one of the most bipartisan members of Congress.

Spanberger is not the only vulnerable Democrat who has decided to run for a different office. Rep. Jeff Jackson (D., N.C.) announced a run for attorney general of his state last month after its Republican-led legislature redrew his district in a way that would make it more favorable to the GOP.