Decision 2024

Crowded field of candidates vying for seat in Virginia's 7th congressional district being vacated by Spanberger

Even though there's also an open seat in the 10th congressional district, the 7th is the race that political analysts believe will be most competitive this November

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Virginia voters go to the polls Tuesday to choose the candidates in a congressional race that will likely be the hottest in the commonwealth this fall.

Right now, Rep. Abigail Spanberger represents the 7th congressional district, which covers part of Prince William, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties, as well as several others. Spanberger is running for governor instead of seeking re-election, creating an open congressional seat. That has a lot of candidates on both sides competing for the nomination.

On the Republican side, six candidates are seeking the nomination to represent their party in a district that the GOP is hoping to flip back to red. Among the Democrats, there are seven hopefuls, including several who already hold public office but are looking to move up.

Even though there is also an open seat in the 10th congressional district, the 7th is the race political analysts see as most competitive in November.

"The Republicans are looking at the 7th district as a more appealing opportunity to flip a seat in Northern Virginia," said Stephen Farnsworth, a political analyst at the University of Mary Washington. "The amount of money that's going to be spent on the 7th district on the Republican side will be much, much greater than the 10th, regardless of who the nominee is."

Money and an already well-known name have been key to making first-time candidate Eugene Vindman the perceived frontrunner on the Democratic side.

Vindman’s twin brother, retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, made international headlines when he testified during former President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Eugene Vindman — who was a military officer at the time — says he, too, was involved as a whistleblower, which led to both brothers losing their government positions.

Now Vindman wants a job in Congress. He has far outraised the other six Democrats, although four of them have experience as elected officials, including three current office holders.

"An advantage in terms of endorsements from top Democrats, the funding advantage that he has in terms of ability to raise money and the fact he has a name that is well-known — that puts him in a position to be better-known than the other candidates," Farnsworth said.

On the GOP side, two veterans are emerging at the top of the six-person pack.

Derek Anderson, who spotlights his Green Beret background, is the top fundraiser and may have an edge heading into Tuesday.

"I think a lot of people believe Anderson is probably the favorite in that race," political analyst Robert Holsworth said. "He has more money; he has a pedigree and a background that is quite interesting, and so, my guess, again, is that he is the favorite."

But Camron Hamilton, a Navy SEAL combat veteran, is also waging a strong campaign.

Neither man has served in public office before.

The GOP candidates all are giving full-throated support for Donald Trump. The primary vote may be the first indication of whether the former president’s legal troubles are energizing GOP voters to turn out.

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