Henrico County Democrats celebrated wins in two Congressional districts tonight, welcoming Abigail Spanberger to office in the Seventh District and maintaining a stronghold on the Fourth District thanks to incumbent A. Donald McEachin’s impressive victory.
McEachin, whose district includes the University of Richmond, secured his seat earlier in the evening. He gave a short victory speech at a Democratic election night party at The Westin – Richmond in Henrico.
McEachin earned more than 55 percent of the Henrico vote and defeated Republican challenger Ryan A. McAdams 62 percent to 36 percent overall.
“I believe this with every fiber of my being that the American people are about to hand us the House of Representatives back. I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to be welcoming a new neighbor to the neighborhood,” McEachin said during his victory speech, referencing a Spanberger win.
His predictions were right.
Although the Seventh Congressional race was tight throughout the evening, Spanberger claimed a narrow win, earning 50 percent of the vote to Brat’s 49 percent, about a 4,500-vote difference. The margin was much wider in Henrico, where Spanberger won 59 percent to Brat’s 40 percent.
The seat, held by Brat since 2014, was last held by a Democrat in 1968.
The tight race left Spanberger supporters anxious, yet optimistic throughout the night.
“She’s the right person to be running against Brat,” Spanberger supporter Rena Xiao said before the results were finalized. “Post-Trump, she’s a new politician for a younger generation.”
The result was what another supporter Clyde Johnson said he anticipated.
Hundreds of Spanberger supporters crowded the ballrooms of The Westin in anticipation of Spanberger’s win, and erupted with cheers, tears and hugs when Spanberger took the stage to give her victory speech.
“I am honored to stand before you as the Congresswoman elect,” Spanberger said in her opening statements. “When we launched this campaign, conventional wisdom dictated that this race was unwinnable. We won [this] district by doing exactly what every campaign should do: Focus on the needs of the people, the voters.”
Spanberger supporters argued that this is what earned her a victory tonight.
Henrico voter Hina Khan said that Spanberger visited her place of worship throughout her campaign.
“She was everywhere,” Khan said. “Chesterfield, Reston, you name it. She came to us and she is supporting us. That’s what we need, right?”
Spanberger talked about the substantive issues affecting her voters’ lives, stood up for American values and brought respect and decency, she said during her victory speech.
“I think [Spanberger] cares about the future of our children… about working together across party lines for the people… about healthcare… about safety,” Henrico voter Becky Edwards said. “I think she cares about doing the right thing for the right reasons.”
What Spanberger brought to the campaign that Brat did not bring to his time in office was getting out there and connecting with the people and listening to them, Edwards said.
“That’s what he’s supposed to be doing,” she said.
Spanberger said that she stood for bipartisanship and serving the people, not special interests.
“This is just the beginning of a huge trajectory for her because she’s a moderate,” Henrico voter Sandee Bailey said. “I think we need more moderates. I think the polarization has got to end. She really represented this district, which is why she has been elected.”
The campaign was successful because Spanberger’s team was steadfast in its focus on the policies that are important to her and to her constituents, she said.
“I will hold my ground when necessary,” Spanberger said. “There is so much more to be done.”
This story was originally published on the Henrico Citizen. Contact managing editor Sydney Lake at email@example.com.