Nick Freitas’s Pre-Filings Cement His Frontrunner Status in 7th District
The filing deadline to be a convention delegate has passed in eight of the 10 counties that make up the 7th District. The estimated total number of filings in each of those counties (in order of their deadline):
Two other counties, Nottoway and Amelia, have not yet hit their deadline.
With eight counties finished and six candidates in the race, only one candidate prior to today has announced any pre-file count in any county: Del. John McGuire claims to have filed over 750 of the 1400 delegates in Henrico County.
Today, the Nick Freitas campaign has shared with Bearing Drift its pre-file numbers. Nick Freitas claims the most filed delegates in each of the first six counties whose deadlines have passed, with an outright majority in most, if not all (depending on final credentials). These collectively make up around 40 percent of the weighted vote at the 7th District convention.
In addition, in Chesterfield County, the Freitas campaign has shared with Bearing Drift that it has filed close to 500 delegates. This would surpass the rumored number floating around in some circles from other campaigns. With only 800 other forms out there, there’s a good chance Nick Freitas is in first place in Chesterfield.
In addition, in Henrico County, the Freitas campaign has shared with Bearing Drift that it has filed over 500 delegates. If John McGuire truly did file 750, this would leave a scant 150 forms filed by all other campaigns.
No other candidate has released any numbers. This includes Tina Ramirez, who sent out a self-congratulatory press release on Tuesday covered by this site, but has not released any numbers in any county.
Here’s a fact of convention filing forms: county committees don’t organize forms by which campaign submitted them. I’ve worked both sides of this, both as a campaign submitting forms and on a committee accepting forms. There is no accounting for which forms came from which candidate, even when they’re delivered in bulk by a campaign, unless the committee makes a point of keeping forms separate for the purposes of counting. This is rare, as the committee is focused on processing forms and payments and data entry in an orderly fashion.
Which is to say, there’s no way of actually knowing how many forms a campaign submitted, except from the campaigns themselves.
Some campaigns choose to announce their numbers; and there’s a strategic argument to be made to hide your numbers for purposes of convention planning. There’s also the gambit of both hiding your numbers while also claiming victory, and hoping people just go along with it.
However, that gambit tends to fall apart when other campaigns release actual numbers. Upon scrutiny, it’s easy to deduce on which candidates are generating the most support and filing the most delegates. To wit:
On the fundraising front: Tina Ramirez entered the race in April 2019, and raised $227K from April to December. John McGuire entered the race in November 2019 and Nick Freitas in December 2019; in roughly five weeks, McGuire raised $165K while Freitas raised $221K – or just $8K less than what Ramirez raised in nine months. Ramirez also spent most of that money, leaving her with just $19K cash-on-hand as of December 31st. Freitas has 10x that, with over $190K in the bank.
On the endorsement front, Freitas, McGuire, and Ramirez have all received endorsements from a bevy of local politicians and influential Republicans in the district. Nick Freitas has also received the endorsement of former Congressman Dave Brat, Congressman Ben Cline, Senators Bryce Reeves and Amanda Chase, Delegates Mark Cole, Michael Webert, and Brenda Pogge, and Trump 2016 co-chairman John Fredericks.
Freitas also received the endorsement of the influential Club for Growth, which said: “We plan to invest more resources in Nick’s candidacy than in any of our previous House races.” A recent Politico article pegs that as “hundreds of thousands of dollars” for the nomination alone, and more for the general election.
After the Freitas campaign reached out to share its convention pre-filing numbers, I spoke with campaign manager Joe Desilets for a few questions on the record:
Q: There’s a lot of good conservatives in this race. What sets Nick apart?
Any candidate that wants your vote can say the right things, but Nick is only candidate that has also walked the walk. That’s not just his conservative voting record of putting our principles above the convenience of going along with the pack, but Nick has spent the past decade working in the conservative grassroots movement in Virginia. It’s that commitment to conservative principles and to the grassroots that led to Nick being endorsed by the conservatives that we trust to fight for us in Virginia and in DC. Leaders like Delegates Mark Cole and Mike Webert here in Virginia, and Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. Also Congressman Ben Cline, and of course former Congressman Dave Brat.
Q: There’s a lot of pessimism about the decline in the suburbs that led to this seat flipping blue in 2018. What’s it going to take to defeat Spanberger and flip it back to red in 2020?
In a word: organization. And that’s not just the grassroots organization, which is incredibly crucial on the ground, but also fundraising to compete with not just Spanberger, but Michael Bloomberg, Nancy Pelosi, and everyone else on the left. We have the grassroots organization needed to win, with our team having organized to file more delegates than any other candidate across the district so far. But Nick has the kind of fundraising organization that no other candidate in this race can come close to matching. In the three and a half months since Nick announced his candidacy, he has received contributions from well over 3,000 individual donors across the country, including more than 1,000 in the 7th District.
You know, there’s a reason why conservative leaders like Senator Ted Cruz and Dave Brat have said that Nick is the only candidate who can make this race competitive and can take on Spanberger. That’s why the Cook Political Report specifically named when Nick announced as the reason why they were moving this seat from a “Lean Democrat” seat to a “Toss Up.”
Q: The 7th District Committee chose a convention to nominate a candidate, but with the coronavirus, the likelihood of holding a convention seems to dwindle by the day. What is the campaign’s thought on the best course of action?
I’ll say this: we are blessed in the 7th District to have a group of incredible grassroots activists and party leaders on the 7th District Committee and we have full faith and confidence that they will find a way to still hold this convention. Beyond that, we don’t see it as our place to lobby the party for one change or alternative versus another. With Nick’s fundraising, and our strong lead across the district in filed delegates, and our grassroots network, we are fully ready to win the nomination under any scenario and then take the fight to Abigail Spanberger in the general.
Q: Speaking of the pandemic, what are Nick’s thoughts on what’s going on in Washington D.C.?
Our campaign has been taking this virus seriously from the very beginning. We think it’s important that we put partisan games aside and do what we can to not only keep ourselves and our families healthy and safe, but also to support those in our communities that have been negatively impacted. We think it’s unfortunate that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats play those partisan games, you know, by adding in money for the abortion industry and their pet liberal projects. The Democrats need to get as serious on this as Republicans are because lives and the future of our national economy are at stake, and that goes beyond politics.
Some have written off the chances of Republicans winning the district back in 2020. The truth is this is a district that Trump not only won, but won by 8-points and with a 51 percent majority. While Dave Brat did lose in 2018, it was only by a slim 48%-46% margin. Most voters in 2018 did not vote for Abigail Spanberger in 2018, and a strong candidate can bring the district closer to 2016-levels.
With a commanding fundraising lead and key endorsements among conservative leaders in the district and across the Commonwealth, Nick Freitas assumed the mantle of front-runner status as soon as he entered the race. Based on the pre-filing numbers his campaign has shared, he has cemented his status as the candidate to beat.