RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger defeated two-term Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th District Congressional race on Election Day.
While he did not concede the race on Tuesday night, Brat issued a statement Wednesday just after noon that said, " While the registrars across the district are still reviewing the votes, it is looking like the voters have spoken in this race."
Spanberger, a former CIA officer and political newcomer, scored a dramatic win Tuesday for Democrats in a district that has been held by Republicans since 1971.
She is the first woman to represent Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
“We did it!" Spanberger told supporters Tuesday night to raucous cheers. “I am honored to stand before you as the Congresswoman-elect from Virginia’s 7th District.”
The 39-year-old Spanberger cast herself as a moderate during the race and slammed Brat for being out of touch with voters in the district covering suburbs west of Richmond and large rural areas.
“We won an unwinnable district by doing what a campaign should do,” Spanberger said. “This is what happens when we focus on the candidates who want to serve communities. It’s about time we rejected the politic of hate. We have to continue to rally together.”
Spanberger said other wins by women and progressive candidates around the state and country will have a profound effect.
“There’s a lot of really incredible progress happening across the country,” Spanberger said. “I think it will change what we see in Congress come January.”
Spanberger moved to Henrico County as a child and graduated from Tucker High School. She says she always knew she wanted to pursue a career in public service.
Brat, a former economics professor, has lived in Virginia for more than 20 years. He served on the Economic Advisory Board for two Virginia governors, was an advisor to State Sen. Walter Stosch and also served as president of the Virginia Association of Economists.
Ahead of election day, a poll had showed that Brat and Spanberger were locked in a statistical tie for the seat, which represents parts of Chesterfield and Henrico counties, and stretches from Brunswick County to Culpeper in Northern Virginia.
Brat, a former economics professor, touted the strong economy and tax cuts under Republican President Donald Trump. He portrayed Spanberger as a radical liberal and often compared her to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
But it wasn’t enough to carry Brat to victory in a district where suburban Democrats appeared to be energized by their disdain for Trump.
“The voters of the 7th District came out in record numbers for a mid-term election yesterday,” Brat said. “... I want to thank the thousands and thousands of volunteers and donors who worked tirelessly and gave sacrificially to support the principles of the Virginia Republican creed and the conservative values of our founders like James Madison. We may not have won this election, but I am truly humbled by all of the support I have received over the past four years from so many Virginians.”