This story originally ran on the Capital News Service.
With 96 percent of votes counted, The Capital News Service projects that incumbent Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger has defeated Republican challenger Nick Freitas in the closely-watched 7th District Congressional race.
Spanberger declared victory shortly before 6:00 p.m. Wednesday in a press release.
“Tonight, the Seventh District affirmed its commitment to leadership in Congress that puts Central Virginia first, works for everyone, and focuses on expanding opportunity for the next generation of Virginians,” the press release read. “Serving the Seventh District in Congress has been my honor, and I look forward to continuing our work to strengthen and protect our communities.”
Though Freitas appeared to be ahead by 600 votes late last night, Spanberger won 53.3% of late-reporting absentee ballots in Spotsylvania County to pull ahead, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Uncounted absentee ballots from Henrico broke heavily for Spanberger, adding to her margin of victory.
According to the Virginia Department of Elections, Spanberger won 227,540 votes (50.5%) and Freitas won 222,406 (49.4%). This is a slimmer margin than Spanberger’s 2018 victory, in which she flipped the longtime Republican seat by 1.9%.
Spanberger won both of the district’s two most populous counties, Henrico and Chesterfield.
Spanberger got 55% of the votes in Chesterfield and 60.1% in Henrico for a total of 157,517 votes from the two counties. Although only 88% of Henrico’s votes are accounted for, Henrico has thus far favored Spanberger by a margin of 60.0% to Freitas’ 39.8%. 70.7% of the first batch of absentee ballots counted today went for Spanberger, and the second batch went for Spanberger with 64.0%.
First-term incumbent Spanberger raised $4.7 million more than Freitas did over the course of the race. The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball had both categorized the 7th District race as “leans Democratic.”
Contact Nikhil Mehta, Andrew Murphy and A.J. Quinlen at Capital News Service.
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