Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger vs. Delegate Nick Freitas - Edition #1
Fundraising, analysis, and political maneuvering
Welcome to the first edition of our VA-07 congressional campaign newsletter. In case you are just catching up, Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) is challenging one-term incumbent Abigail Spanberger (D-Henrico) for her seat in the United States House of Representatives.
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A poll is in the field asking voters if they would be bothered that Abigail Spanberger taught at a school that was funded by Saudi Arabia. According to several people who received this call, the person conducting the poll told the voter that Saudi Arabia funded the September 11th attacks on the United States.
This potential attack on Spanberger might look familiar to VA-07 voters, or anyone that opened a Youtube video in 2018. The Republicans created an attack ad at the time titled “Terror High” that made this same Saudi Arabia-related link to Spanberger. Spanberger eventually beat the 4-year incumbent Dave Brat, flipping a district that was held by Republicans for decades.
Freitas’ campaign said they have nothing to do with the poll. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, which is a well-known GOP polling shop.
Spanberger declined to comment.
The Freitas campaign is catching heat from a progressive group after Delegate Mark Cole posted a photo of himself wearing a mask that reads “COVID-19, Made in China”. In a tweet, Cole said he purchased the mask from the Freitas campaign.
“We are highly disturbed that Delegate Nick Freitas has decided to bankroll his campaign using a narrative that identifies COVID-19 with China,” said the National Korean American Service and Education (NAKASEC) Action Fund, a progressive advocacy group. “Blaming China for the COVID-19 crisis in the United States has led to a sharp increase of racially motivated attacks and discrimination against people of Chinese descent and others perceived to be of Chinese descent. In Virginia, Chinese and other Asian Americans have been cursed and yelled at, barred from entering businesses, physically assaulted, and faced workplace discrimination, according to Stop AAPI Hate and news coverage. Outside of Virginia, people have spat on, thrown acid at, and even stabbed Asian Americans all because they believe Chinese American and other Asian Americans are spreading COVID-19. Nick Freitas’ campaign, and the implied support from Del. Mark Cole, exacerbates anti-Asian racism and endangers our lives. We demand that Del. Freitas immediately remove the “Made in China” mask from his campaign store and end all campaign messaging that fuels anti-Asian racism.”
Joe Desilets, Nick Freitas’ campaign manager provided the following quote for this email, noting that he also sent it to the Washington Post but they did not publish it.
“The communist regime in China lied to the world and enabled a deadly virus to spread, leading to a global pandemic,” said Desilets. “This is the same regime that violently suppresses its own people, press, and scientific community. Nick will not hesitate to hold such a regime accountable and would encourage the Post, whose masthead is “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” to join Nick in calling out a brutal regime currently destroying democracy in broad daylight in Hong Kong, among other atrocities.”
Bettina Weiss, the campaign Manager for Spanberger provided the following quote to VPM, saying that Spangberger has “no comment on her opponent’s choice to sell novelty merchandise trivializing a global pandemic.”
Dr. Stephen Farnsworth, Professor of Political Science at the University of Mary Washington says that this race will come down to one issue - Donald Trump. “To a considerable degree this congressional election in VA-07, like in other places, will be a referendum on the voter preferences regarding the presidential candidates,” said Dr. Farnsworth. “Rep. Spanberger was elected in part because of frustration with President Trump in 2018, and whether the suburban anger directed at the president two years ago remains as intense in 2020 is the key question that will be answered in November.”
Dr. Farnsworth says the popularity of Trump in the media will limit the ability of congressional candidates to gain any traction on their own. “In VA-07 and elsewhere, what the candidates say and do will be overshadowed by the president's actions. He commands media attention like few other politicians in recent decades, and that may mean that even congressional candidates will struggle to be heard over the din of the presidential election this fall.”
The Freitas campaign told Virginia Scope that they are in the process of finalizing a plan to send over a recommended debate schedule to the Spanberger campaign in the next few days. The Spanberger campaign declined to comment.
As of the most recent campaign finance filing deadline on June 20th, Spanberger has more than $4 million cash on hand. Freitas has a little more than $350,000 cash on hand after an expensive nomination process. The convention took place 18 weeks after the filing deadline meaning we do not know how much Freitas spent during the last 18 days of his convention campaign. It is also worth noting, however, that Club for Growth, a “conservative organization”, vowed to spend $2 million to support Freitas in this race.
We will be providing breaking news updates at random, along with weekly updates on what is happening as Spanberger tries to keep Freitas from flipping this seat back to the Republicans. The Cook Report has labeled this race as a toss-up, so stay seated - this is going to be a fun race to watch.
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