The Collegian
Saturday, May 30, 2020

Two Virginia Democratic congressional candidates debate on campus

<p>Democratic congressional&nbsp;candidate Dan Ward, left, and professor Tracy Roof, right, listen to another Democratic congressional&nbsp;candidate,&nbsp;Abigail Spanberger, center, respond to a debate question in Ukrop Auditorium on April 2.&nbsp;</p>

Democratic congressional candidate Dan Ward, left, and professor Tracy Roof, right, listen to another Democratic congressional candidate, Abigail Spanberger, center, respond to a debate question in Ukrop Auditorium on April 2. 

Editor's note: the first version of this story misattributed who created a special website promoting the two Democratic candidates. It was created by UR College Democrats, not the candidates. 

Guns, drugs and money were just some of the topics debated by two Democratic congressional candidates in Ukrop Auditorium on Monday evening in anticipation of the July 12 primary election. 

Dan Ward and Abigail Spanberger, the two contenders for the 7th Congressional District of Virginia, participated in the debate which was hosted by the University of Richmond College Democrats and moderated by Tracy Roof, associate professor of political science. 

During the event, the candidates discussed policy and ideas that they would advocate for if elected to replace incumbent Dave Brat, the Republican congressman currently representing the 7th district.

A question was asked about instances such as the recent Parkland, Florida, school shooting in which 17 students were killed by a gunman wielding an AR-15. 

“We have to do something about the gun violence in the country,” said Ward, a former Marine who spent 25 years in the service.

On money in politics, Spanberger, a former CIA operations officer, said she would not accept money from corporate lobbyists as some politicians do. 

“I would advocate for the overturning of Citizens United,” Spanberger said.

Although different in their style of delivery, the two candidates did not differ much on their views. One thing was clear: they both wanted to make sure that Dave Brat and the rest of the Republican party lost seats in the congressional elections this November. 

Both candidates argued that the GOP and the current administration had failed to protect Americans in their responses to a range of issues including law enforcement to the opioid epidemic.

The candidates spoke while approximately 60 people in the auditorium listened. They expressed that their personal communication with constituents throughout the district was a reason to choose them over Brat. 

UR College Dems have also launched a website for both candidates to emphasize the candidates' point of representing their constituents, not special interests, they said.

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Jacob Uzzell, a sophomore and the vice president of the College Democrats, explained why the organization's members decided to bring candidates such as Ward and Spanberger to campus.

“I think with any civic engagement group, the best thing you can do is to get people civically engaged, get people out, get people canvassing," Uzzell said, "and the College Democrats has been very good about that.”

Contact news writer Diego J. Rayas at

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