Spanberger declares victory after pulling ahead of Freitas

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico, greets voters at a polling place in Henrico County on Election Day. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico, pulled ahead Wednesday afternoon in what had been a too-close-to-call congressional race against Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, after Spotsylvania County reported its absentee ballot numbers and Henrico County updated its absentee totals.

With the new numbers in in, Spanberger was leading Freitas by more than 5,100 votes, according to unofficial results on the state elections website. The results had shown Spanberger trailing Freitas since polls closed Tuesday.

Officials seemed to still be sorting out an issue with Henrico County’s absentee numbers, but it wasn’t clear a change there would hurt Spanberger’s lead.

Spanberger declared victory early Wednesday evening shortly after the new counts came in.

“Tonight, the Seventh District affirmed its commitment to leadership in Congress that puts Central Virginia first, works for everyone, and focuses on expanding opportunity for the next generation of Virginians,” Spanberger said in a news release.

Freitas said he would wait for canvassing to take place before making a statement about the outcome.

If the result holds, none of Virginia’s congressional districts will have changed hands in 2021, with Democrats defending the three seats they flipped two years ago but failing to pick up another they were targeting.

Later Wednesday night, Spanberger said it had been the “honor of my life” to represent the district, congratulating Freitas on a hard-fought campaign.

“As we celebrate tonight I know there are many who cast a different vote,” she said. “I hope over time I will earn your trust as a representative even as we disagree.”

Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Norfolk, defeated Congressman Scott Taylor in the competitive, Virginia Beach-anchored 2nd District, and Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Loudoun, defeated Republican challenger Aliscia Andrews in Northern Virginia’s 10th District.

Republican Bob Good defeated Democrat Cameron Webb in central Virginia’s 5th District, ending Democrats’ hopes they could add to their 2018 gains.

Spanberger’s apparent win was a bright spot for Democrats, who had a lackluster showing nationwide, failing to capture Senate and House seats that were up for grabs and losing several they were trying to hold.

This post has been updated to add a statement from Spanberger and additional news from Tuesday’s election.