Virginia’s 7th District Race Gets Started

It’s a bit early to consider who might emerge to give freshman incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger a credible challenge for the 7th Congressional District in 2020.

But Republicans — who really, really want to take the 7th back from Democrats next year — already have at least one candidate running for the job: nonprofit executive Tina Ramirez.

Ramirez checks a lot of boxes Virginia Republicans, particularly those in the 7th, have long ignored: single mother, Hispanic, woman.

That’s a long way from the parade of buttoned-down white Republican men who’ve represented the 7th in recent years: Dave Brat, Eric Cantor and Tom Bliley.

Then again, it may be exactly the distance Republicans need to travel to regain a district whose population centers in Henrico and Chesterfield counties continue to move toward the Democratic column.

So Ramirez is unusual for the GOP — practically a unicorn.

That’s good, because it might indicate the diversity push Republicans have made with their General Assembly candidates this year is more than a gimmick.

We’ll only know for sure once the rest of the field seeking to challenge Spanberger emerges.

Conventional wisdom says that the field should include just about any Republican officeholder in the district, but especially members of the General Assembly. Almost since Spanberger was declared the victor in 2018, Del. Nick Freitas has been among the leading Republican possibilities from that crowd.

Freitas is still seen in some circles as the most credible challenger the party could run against Spanberger. He’s not as abrasive as either Brat or Cantor, a huge plus by itself.

Freitas would motivate the 7th’s rural voters to show up at the polls and overcome the district’s suburban voters who carried Spanberger to victory last November.

But Freitas may have bigger ambitions, including running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2021.

Making the dangerous assumption Freitas does opt for a 2021 run rather than a 7th Congressional District race, who else might join Ramirez in seeking the GOP nod?

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