Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton introduced Monday that she wouldn’t search a fourth time period representing Virginia’s tenth District attributable to worsening signs of a neurodegenerative illness.
Wexton, who revealed in April that she’d been identified with Parkinson’s, said in her new statement that her physicians have since “modified my prognosis to Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy – a form of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids.'” The congresswoman stated that she’d serve out the remainder of her time period however added, “There is no such thing as a ‘getting higher’ with PSP. I’ll proceed therapy choices to handle my signs, however they don’t work as nicely.”
Wexton’s departure will set off a race to switch her in a constituency based mostly within the southwestern D.C. suburbs and exurbs, territory that swung sharply to the left throughout the Trump period. Joe Biden carried the present model of the tenth 58-40 in 2020, although Democrat Terry McAuliffe prevailed right here by a smaller 51-49 unfold within the following 12 months’s race for governor as he was shedding to Republican Glenn Youngkin by that very same margin statewide.
Wexton herself gained an unexpectedly costly contest in 2022 towards Navy veteran Hung Cao 53-47, a margin half the dimensions of her prior two victories. (Cao is now waging an uphill battle towards Sen. Tim Kaine.) Her departure strikes the tenth District up in our Home Vulnerability Index from the fortieth most at-risk Democratic-held seat to the 26th, although it might nonetheless probably take a GOP wave to place it in play.
Wexton spent greater than a decade concerned in Loudoun County politics as her populous and well-educated Northern Virginia suburb shifted from purple to blue. She sought workplace for the primary time in 2011 when she ran to develop into the county’s high prosecutor, however she misplaced to Republican Commonwealth Lawyer Jim Plowman 52-48. That shut defeat got here the identical night time that Republicans netted the 2 seats within the state Senate they wanted to safe the 20-20 impasse that, because of Republican Lt. Gov. Invoice Bolling’s tie-breaking vote, gave them management of the chamber.
Wexton, although, would go on to play a key function in serving to Democrats regain the physique for a brief period of time. Two Democratic senators, Ralph Northam and Mark Herring, gained respective races for lieutenant governor and lawyer basic in 2013, and Democrats wanted to win each January particular elections to switch them with a view to be certain that Northam may break ties of their favor. Democrats selected Wexton as their nominee to succeed Herring within the thirty third District, a seat that had backed Barack Obama 59-39 however was one the place the occasion feared that low turnout may jeopardize their probabilities.
Wexton, although, had little bother beating John Whitbeck, a neighborhood GOP official who had attracted unwelcome consideration for telling an antisemitic joke at a rally, 53-38. Nevertheless it would not be clear for an additional week that Wexton’s decisive victory had returned her occasion to energy: Fellow Democrat Lynwood Lewis had gained a particularly tight particular to switch Northam two weeks earlier, but it surely took a recount to substantiate he’d prevailed by 11 votes. Nonetheless, the GOP would find yourself retaking the Senate just some months later after Democrat Phil Puckett resigned from a darkish pink seat in June and was succeeded by a Republican, and so they’d stay in energy till the 2019 elections.
Wexton, nonetheless, was now not within the legislature by that time. Distinguished Democrats, together with 4th District Rep. Donald McEachin, efficiently recruited her to problem Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock within the 2018 cycle in what everybody anticipated can be a difficult race. Comstock, who was a outstanding GOP opposition researcher throughout the Clinton period, had simply gained her second time period 53-47 whilst her district was dramatically swinging from a 51-49 win for Mitt Romney all the way in which to a 52-42 margin for Hillary Clinton, and her sturdy fundraising made her a troublesome adversary.
McEachin, who was serving as a DCCC vice chair, quoted Thomas Paine in his appeals for Wexton to take up the duty, writing, “You and I usually are not sunshine patriots. Your nation wants you.” First, although, the state senator needed to show to main voters she was the most effective candidate towards Comstock in what proved to be an costly and busy main. One contender, former State Division official Alison Friedman, used her private wealth to far outspend all the opposite contenders. However Wexton, who had now-Gov. Northam’s endorsement, ended up prevailing 42-23 forward of what promised to be one of many marquee races of the 12 months.
This race as a substitute turned an expensive debacle for the GOP. Comstock struggled to distance herself from the poisonous Trump administration at a time when well-educated suburban voters have been abandoning Republicans in droves, and several other polls confirmed the challenger nicely forward. The conservative Congressional Management Fund bowed to actuality, leaving Comstock for useless early and by no means reserved advert time to assist her.
Nonetheless, the NRCC confounded observers by throwing down a complete of $5 million―its largest expenditure within the nation. Committee chair Steve Stivers defended his determination, arguing, “The final ballot I checked out she’s profitable. I am not going to chop off anyone who’s profitable.”
Wexton triumphed 56-44 because the GOP was shedding management of 40 different Home seats, and with them management of the chamber. Stivers didn’t search one other time period as head of the NRCC, and his alternative, Tom Emmer, shortly acknowledged he had been “inundated with complaints in regards to the $5 million spent on TV adverts to assist Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock.” (Stivers resigned in 2021 to guide Ohio’s Chamber of Commerce.)
Wexton had no bother securing her second time period two years later, however Republicans hoped that the anticipated pink wave may give Cao a gap in 2022. The congresswoman ended up outraising her rival by a modest $3.8 million to $3.2 million, however this time, there was no critical exterior spending from both occasion. Cao ran nicely forward of Trump, however Wexton nonetheless prevailed 53-47.
This piece has been corrected to mirror that Lynwood Lewis gained by 11 votes, not 9.