Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., will not seek reelection in Congress but will complete the remainder of her term after being diagnosed with atypical Parkinsonism, she announced Monday.
After “receiving treatment and regular medical evaluations for Parkinson’s Disease over the course of the past several months, she has received a modified diagnosis of Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy, type-p (PSP-P), a form of Atypical Parkinsonism,” her office said in a statement Monday morning. Wexton called it “a kind of Parkinson’s on steroids.”
Wexton serves Virginia's 10th congressional district, of which Loudoun County makes up the largest portion. Her term runs through 2024.
She was elected in 2018 amid a wave of wins by Democratic women in the midterm elections during then-President Donald Trump's term. She won a third term last fall.
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Wexton spoke with News4 earlier this year about her Parkinson's diagnosis and said she sought to remain in Congress.
Wexton released this statement on Monday morning:
“When I shared with the world my diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease a few months ago, I knew that the road ahead would have its challenges, and I’ve worked hard to navigate those challenges through consistent treatments and therapies. But I wasn’t making the progress to manage my symptoms that I had hoped, and I noticed the women in my Parkinson’s support group weren’t having the same experience that I was. I sought out additional medical opinions and testing, and my doctors modified my diagnosis to Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy – a kind of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids.’
"I’ve always believed that honesty is the most important value in public service, so I want to be honest with you now – this new diagnosis is a tough one. There is no ‘getting better’ with PSP. I’ll continue treatment options to manage my symptoms, but they don’t work as well with my condition as they do for Parkinson’s.
"I’m heartbroken to have to give up something I have loved after so many years of serving my community. But taking into consideration the prognosis for my health over the coming years, I have made the decision not to seek reelection once my term is complete and instead spend my valued time with Andrew, our boys, and my friends and loved ones.
"When I made the decision to run for Congress, this was clearly not the way I anticipated it coming to a close — but then again, pretty much nothing about my time serving here has quite been typical or as expected. I will forever cherish the people from our communities and all around the country I’ve come to know, the challenges we’ve faced together, and the ways both big and small that my team and I have made a difference in the lives of our neighbors. While my time in Congress will soon come to a close, I’m just as confident and committed as ever to keep up the work that got me into this fight in the first place for my remaining time in office – to help build the future we want for our children. I am truly humbled by the trust Virginians have placed in me, and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of our district.”
Here’s what Rep. Wexton’s colleagues said
Wexton's colleagues reacted to the news with sadness and words of support. Fellow Northerm Virginia House Democrat Don Beyer said in a statement, “When Jennifer joined the House five years ago her future seemed limitless. Now she has been robbed of much of that future with medical news that is tragic and deeply unfair.”
The state party's chairwoman, Susan Swecker, said Wexton's “years of dedicated public service and tireless advancement of LGBTQ civil rights, gun safety reform, labor rights, and affordable healthcare have immeasurably improved the lives of all Virginians.”
Here’s how an open congressional seat could shake up politics
An open seat in the district — which became slightly more conservative in the last redistricting process, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project — could set up a competitive race with implications for party control of the U.S. House in 2024.
Wexton was a prosecutor and state legislator before she was elected to Congress in 2018. She defeated Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock with 56% of the vote in a year when the GOP faced a backlash from suburban voters disappointed with Trump.
She won with 53% of the vote in 2022.
Loudoun County tilts slightly Democratic but has a long history of switching support between political parties. In recent years, the county has been a flashpoint in confrontations over education issues, from school closures and in-person learning during the pandemic to questions over the treatment of transgender students and library books.
Wexton’s announcement means Virginia Democrats could be losing incumbents in the two most closely contested districts they hold. In the 7th District, between Washington and Richmond, speculation is strong that Abigail Spanberger will not seek reelection next year and will instead run for governor in 2025.
Spanberger was also elected in 2018 and has always won narrowly, with anywhere from from 50% to 52% of the vote.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.