Women snagged wins in almost every one of Virginia’s most contested House races on Tuesday, capturing victories in key swing districts including the 10th. These wins mark the continuation of a broader trend that’s been observed in the primary season thus far, which has featured a record number of women candidates vying for the Democratic nominations in the House and Senate.
In one of the most closely watched races of the night, Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock held off challenger Shak Hill in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, despite attacks citing her critiques of President Donald Trump. Women also swept a host of Democratic primaries, setting them up to face off against a number of male Republican incumbents come November.
Two women emerged victorious in Virginia’s 10th
Amid growing speculation about her candidacy, Comstock won her primary handily with just over 60 percent of the vote. She was branded as a “Never-Trumper” after she called on Trump to drop out of the 2016 election, following the release of an Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about groping women. At the time, Comstock slammed his comments as “vile” and “disgusting” — critiques that Hill sought to use against her during the primary.
State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, meanwhile, secured a spot as Comstock’s Democratic opponent in the general election. Wexton beat out five other Democrats, including two former Obama administration staffers, to win the primary with more than 40 percent of the vote.
She and Comstock are in for a heated showdown this fall: Virginia’s 10th is one of more than 20 districts currently held by Republicans, which Hillary Clinton won in 2016 — making it a top target as Democrats seek to flip the House.
Democratic women across the state fared remarkably well
Multiple women emerged victorious in a slate of Democratic primaries, which means they’ll be taking on Republican incumbents this fall.
Government contractor Vangie Williams knocked out two other Democrats to advance to the general election in the First District, with almost 40 percent of the vote. She’ll be up against five-term Rep. Rob Wittman in the heavily Republican district.
In Virginia’s Second, veteran Elaine Luria sailed through her race, securing 62 percent of the vote against schoolteacher Karen Mallard. The district leans Republican but only went to Trump by 3 points in 2016. Luria will face one-term Rep. Scott Taylor in the midterms.
Former federal law enforcement officer and CIA operative Abigail Spanberger is poised to take on Rep. David Brat in Virginia’s Seventh District, after receiving more than 70 percent of the vote and beating retired military Col. Dan Ward. The historically Republican district has seen some major voter shifts in the past few election cycles, swinging 8 points toward Democrats in the governor’s race last year.
In a race for one of the state’s few open seats, mental health professional Jennifer Lewis received roughly 48 percent of the vote. She will go head to head with Virginia House of Delegates member Ben Cline for a slot in the Sixth District that has been vacated by Rep. Bob Goodlatte.
Democratic women candidates have overperformed when they’ve competed against men in this year’s primaries. It remains to be seen whether this trend will hold for the general election — especially in more conservative districts.