In a race rated as a toss-up by one election analysis, state Del. Nick Freitas is trying to unseat incumbent Democrat Abigail Spanberger in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
Spanberger, serving her first term in Congress, flipped the seat in 2018 after defeating Republican Rep. Dave Brat in a 50% to 48% vote. At the time, the seat had been held by Republicans for nearly 50 years, and the district had voted Republican in most of its other recent races.
Although the seat is a former Republican stronghold, it quickly became a battleground district after court-ordered redistricting altered the political affiliation and demographic makeup of the district. The order moved Republican-heavy Hanover County from the 7th District into the 1st District, which already was a solid Republican district.
Spanberger serves on the House Committee on Agriculture and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, which is meant to represent fiscally moderate Democrats.
Freitas, R-Culpepper, has represented the 30th District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2016 and serves on the Transportation Committee and the Technology, Innovation and Communications Committee. He launched a failed bid for U.S. Senate in 2018, losing the primary to Corey Stewart.
Taxes and Economy
Although Spanberger was not in office when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed in 2017, she has opposed it for providing permanent cuts for corporations and adding to the national debt. She supported Paycheck Protection Program loans to prop up businesses affected by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and voted for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal because she said central Virginia businesses rely on a strong export market.
Spanberger has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was a recipient of the chamber’s Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship and the Spirit of Enterprise Award.
Freitas supported the 2017 tax cuts but said they should have been accompanied by additional spending cuts to prevent a rise in the deficit. While serving in state government, Freitas consistently has opposed tax increases and legislation that would grant public sector unions collective bargaining rights, which Republican lawmakers warned could lead to higher local taxes and more local spending. He also opposed bills that would allow local governments to increase taxes.
The National Federation of Independent Business, which represents small businesses nationally, endorsed Freitas.
Spanberger supports maintaining the Affordable Care Act and criticized Republicans for trying to dismantle it. She cosponsored a bill to ensure coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and cosponsored a bill to let Medicare directly negotiate drug prices.
Freitas has said he supports repealing the Affordable Care Act and voted against Medicaid expansion in Virginia with the concern it could cost more than expected and force lawmakers to raise taxes or cut spending elsewhere.
Criminal Justice Reform
Spanberger introduced legislation in Congress to combat drug smuggling in Central America, which eventually was signed into law by President Donald Trump. She previously worked on narcotics cases and money laundering cases for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. She has supported ending the federal prohibition on states enacting marijuana legalization and said she supports criminal justice reform efforts to end mass incarceration and treat drug addiction as a public health issue instead of a crime.
Freitas sponsored a bill in the Virginia Legislature to grant Virginians greater protection against civil asset forfeiture by police and voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state. He voted against legislation that would prohibit the use of no-knock warrants and other criminal justice reform bills proposed by House Democrats during the ongoing special session. However, he has said he supports criminal justice reform and it should not be a partisan issue.
Election day is Nov. 3, but early voting already has begun in the state.
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