In The News
Abigail Spanberger, a well-credentialed former C.I.A. officer, may make history of a different sort in a district that has been deeply Republican for decades.
For Democrats, Ms. Spanberger’s candidacy represents a test of the breadth and effectiveness of their coalition of newly emboldened female voters aghast at President Trump’s White House tenure — and the ability of fed-up women to build an insurgency of their own.
“I think it is ironic, humorous,” Ms. Spanberger said of Mr. Brat being on the receiving end of a rebellion. “I read it as a cautionary tale of coming into the scene saying you want to do things differently, and not really doing it differently.”
Democrat Abigail Spanberger stood on a wooden bench at a vineyard in central Virginia and railed against “the prioritization of ideology over informed decision-making” — a pointed jab at her opponent, House Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat.
Spanberger, a 38-year-old former CIA operative, has barnstormed this traditionally Republican stronghold accusing Brat of putting the Freedom Caucus’ intransigent conservative politics over the needs of constituents, and pitching herself as a pragmatist who could represent them better.
Brat attacks her with Republican boilerplate, as a “radical progressive” who wants to advance a left-wing agenda set by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. Actually, Spanberger has said that she won’t vote for Pelosi for Speaker if Democrats retake the House, and the ex-spy, who was in domestic law-enforcement before starting her intelligence career, is hardly a radical. Brat shows little interest in debating an opponent who seems to know more about global and local issues than he does.
Like many of the new Democratic candidates, Spanberger was at least partially motivated to run by Trump’s foreign policy, specifically his early push to pursue a ban on travel from predominantly Muslim countries. This week, Spanberger assailed Trump for his meeting with Putin. But typically, she says, she doesn’t spend much time talking about foreign policy or the president. “What the president has done is he has created a level of uneasiness for many people,” she says. “But I want people to vote for me. It’s not enough to have people vote against Donald Trump.”
Democrat Abigail Spanberger fielded few questions about President Trump’s joint news conference with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin during a Wednesday evening town hall as the former clandestine officer in the CIA campaigned to unseat Republican Rep. Dave Brat.
In June, former undercover CIA operative Abigail Spanberger crushed a well-funded Democratic primary opponent with 73 percent of the vote in an impressive display of grassroots support. Spanberger grew up in Henrico County (the 7th CD) writing a diary in code. As a pragmatic woman with a non-political resume, she could offer a problematic contrast for Brat, a Freedom Caucus member who complained last year about women “in my grill” at town halls.
Spanberger trounced opponent Dan Ward in last week’s Democratic primary by a whopping 45 points. Her candidacy has already garnered national attention, and as of the last reporting cycle, Spanberger’s campaign had raised almost as much money as her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Dave Brat.
“As a former intelligence officer Abigail Spanberger has already given a great deal to our country, but she isn’t done serving the people of Virginia yet,” said DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján. “Abigail’s run for Congress is rooted in her deep commitment to her community and her leadership has energized voters in truly exciting ways. With the tremendous momentum from her primary victory and a strong grassroots campaign, Abigail is ready to compete and win this suburban district.”
Red to Blue is a highly competitive and battle-tested program at the DCCC that arms top-tier candidates with organizational and fundraising support to help them continue to run strong campaigns.
Former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger handily defeated former Marine pilot Dan Ward on Tuesday in the 7th District Democratic primary, and she will face GOP Rep. Dave Brat this fall in a district that national Democrats have targeted for flipping.
Spanberger got more votes Tuesday than any other candidate on the ballot in Virginia’s House primary races.
Spanberger’s work as a CIA case officer took her around the world. She developed assets and worked with sources, gathering intelligence to fight terrorism and pursue nuclear nonproliferation.
Spanberger says she decided to run because she believes Brat and other members of Congress aren’t representing the wishes of their constituents. She cites Republicans’ efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act – also called Obamacare – as a prime example.
“Our representatives in Washington are not serving the needs of the people in their districts, and that’s particularly true for us,” said Spanberger, referencing Brat. “Our congressman has been very driven by ideology. I don’t think he makes any bones about that.”
Brat “is not showing the leadership that this district needs. He is driven by ideology, and an ideology that is not accomplishing anything in Washington and also an ideology that is out of step with the district,” she said.
Last year, she helped numerous Democratic candidates in the region, among them Debra Rodman, a professor who upset Republican Del. John O’Bannon, R-Henrico. Should Spanberger become the Democratic nominee this year for Congress, she wants to offer alternative ideas to flip the district. She predicts that the 7th will, indeed, flip come November and wants to run up a big margin. “We need to change the conversation in Washington,” she said.
When asked about making the jump from intelligence professional to civilian politics, former CIA agent and Democratic primary candidate for Virginia’s 7th District, Abigail Spanberger, had a very distinct answer. “My whole role was to become a subject matter expert on a variety of different topics at a variety of different times.” As an intelligence professional, Spanberger had to use her analytical skills to cover issues like nuclear mitigation, science, technology, and narco-trafficking.
“My belief is that the tone of the country and the tone of the region has changed, and that gives a particular kind of Democrat an opportunity. Spanberger is that type of Democrat. She has some potential for crossover appeal,” longtime Richmond political analyst Bob Holsworth said.
Speaking in Spanish, Abigail Spanberger discusses the campaign and issues impacting the 7th with hosts Abogado Pablo Fantl and Oscar Contreras on Radio Poder 1380
Abigail Spanberger was featured in the latest ad from EMILY’s List.
Thursday, Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat running in the 7th District race for the chance to face Republican Rep. Dave Brat, stopped by the studio.
Abigail Spanberger, who served in the CIA for eight years and is one of the top Democratic candidates for her primary race in Virginia’s 7th District, said she finds the political climate “stunning.”
“I find it incredibly detrimental to our long-term stability and security that the President would actively work to undermine the credibility of our intelligence community and our law enforcement community.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Dave Brat’s opponent in VA-07, Abigail Spanberger, outraised him by nearly $100,000.
Abigail Spanberger announced Tuesday that she has pulled in $338,000 since the beginning of the year, bringing her fundraising total to over $700,000 and leaving her with $475,000 in the bank a couple months out from her June 12 primary race
Ominous signs include Republican Ed Gillespie capturing only 51 percent of the district in the 2017 gubernatorial race. And Democrats for the first time since 1961 carried Chesterfield County, a large chunk of the district where demographic shifts have pushed the electorate leftward.
Spanberger, 38, a Democrat, is looking to unseat Rep. Dave Brat, a Republican and member of the Freedom Caucus. She had spent months exploring a potential run, but Brat’s vote to repeal Obamacare last May pushed her over the edge, even if it meant she’d have to talk publicly about a part of her life she’d shared only with her husband, parents, and sisters. “I knew that once those three letters, CIA, came out of my mouth, I could never go back.”
Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA agent running for the nomination to challenge Republican Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia, has picked up a key endorsement from Emily’s List, the advocacy group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights.
“People say we just need decency, and Trump doesn’t represent decency,” she said of the people she has met at house parties in the district. “So many of us are running because we believe that. Though it will not be easy to change the culture of Washington, just changing the tenor will positively impact the conversations.”
Abigail Spanberger joined MSNBC‘s Katy Tur to discuss why she’s running for Congress. “What I’d like to bring to Washington is leadership that listens to the people in their districts and provides representation to the constituents back home.”
Weeks later, Spanberger recalls, she heard something unusual on her baby monitor. Her 2-year-old was chanting, “Love not hate makes America great!” from her crib.
Full Disclosure | January 15, 2018
“I’m not running against Trump, I’m running to represent this district.” – Abigail Spanberger
“A very traditional liberal Democrat might have trouble in that district,” he said. “I think Spanberger has shown the capacity to gain the support of liberal Democrats, while at the same time maintaining the potential to cross over to independents and moderate Republicans. And that’s going to make it a fascinating race. She has a shot to be competitive.”
Abigail Spanberger joined MSNBC‘s Thomas Roberts to discuss the new bipartisan health care bill led by the Senate.
Abigail Spanberger spent eight years as an operations officer for the CIA, recruiting and developing spies, with a focus on counterterrorism. Before joining the agency, she worked in law enforcement for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service — targeting drug dealers and money laundering. In 2014, Spanberger left the agency and moved home to the Richmond suburb of Glen Allen, near where she and her husband grew up, to raise their three kids. The 38-year-old is now challenging Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), the Freedom Caucus leader who toppled then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 primary.
“There is a lot of concern among people living in our district about where we find ourselves on the international stage,” Spanberger said in an interview. “I believe very firmly that the United States of America is the world’s superpower, and we have a responsibility to be a stabilizing force.”
“From my perspective, if you’re elected to represent the people, you should represent the people, not just the ones who voted for you,” said Spanberger, Brat’s potential Democratic opponent.
When Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) complained months ago that female constituents pressuring him to hold a town hall were “in my grill no matter where I go,” he didn’t know how prescient those words were.
Don’t call it piling on, but five women and one man are vying for the Democratic nomination in next year’s primary to challenge U.S. Rep Dave Brat, the tea party-backed conservative in the 7th District who supports President Trump’s policies. The latest contender is Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operations officer who now lives in Henrico County.
Elle recently profiled Abigail and detailed the current political climate surrounding Dave Brat’s seat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.