RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Six Republicans are vying to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) as she seeks a third term in Congress in a redrawn district that moved north from the Richmond suburbs.
Rep. Spanberger has held the 7th Congressional District seat since 2019, narrowly defeating incumbent Rep. Dave Brat (R) in 2018 and state Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) in 2020.
But that was before Virginia’s congressional districts shifted with the state’s redistricting and moved the 7th District, which was anchored in the Richmond suburbs of Henrico and Chesterfield, as far north as eastern Prince William County.
The 7th Congressional District is one of four in Virginia that will hold a Republican primary on June 21 to decide the candidate who will face off with Spanberger in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
Here’s an overview of the new 7th District and the six candidates in the Republican primary:
Virginia’s new 7th Congressional District
The Virginia Supreme Court finalized the state’s redistricting process late last year, reconfiguring the commonwealth’s 11 congressional districts.
The old 7th Congressional District spanned 10 counties from Culpeper and Spotsylvania down to Amelia and Chesterfield. The largest chunk of voters in the district came from Henrico and Chesterfield counties, accounting for nearly 280,000 out of the more than 450,000 votes cast in the 2020 midterms.
Before Spanberger’s two wins, the 7th District hadn’t been held by a Democrat since the late 1960s, records from the state’s Department of Elections show.
The new 7th District no longer includes the Richmond area, instead, it stretches from Greene County to King George and Caroline counties. Prince William County has the largest share of voters in the district, followed by Stafford and Spotsylvania counties, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).
Derrick Anderson, a Spotsylvania native, is a lawyer and former Green Beret who served six tours overseas, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Virginia Tech graduate also served in the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Trump administration. In a recent campaign ad, Anderson is described as “pro-life,” “pro-2nd Amendment” and “the only combat veteran running for Congress.”
The ad says Anderson will “fight election fraud,” “finish President Trump’s wall” and support police officers “to keep communities safe.” In the ad, Anderson is seen meeting with people, shooting multiple guns and images of his time as a Green Beret.
“This district is my home. My entire family still lives in Spotsylvania County, the place I was raised, the place that shaped me into the person I am today,” Anderson said in a statement announcing his intentions to run in the new 7th District. He added that he’s running “to guarantee an end to the extreme agenda of Democrats in Washington,” with who he claimed that Spanberger “is in lock step with.”
Gina Ciarcia is a former teacher who made Dumfries, Prince William County, her home in 2017 with her husband, a retired Marine officer, and five children.
On her campaign website, Ciarcia says she will judge legislation through two lenses: constitutionality and what’s best for families. She supports school choice and has called for keeping “politicized indoctrination out” of schools, taking aim at “Critical Race Theory.”
Critical race theory, an academic framework based on the idea that racism is systemic and is perpetuated in society, has been a focal point for many Republican candidates. The Virginia Department of Education has repeatedly said that critical race theory is not part of the commonwealth’s K-12 curriculum.
Ciarcia backs “significant decreases of taxes on military pensions,” and will support additional pay increases for law enforcement.
Bryce Reeves, a Republican state senator since 2012, is an Army veteran and former narcotics detective in Prince William County.
The district Sen. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) represents includes all of Orange County, a portion of Spotsylvania County, the entire city of Fredericksburg City, and parts of Culpeper, Albemarle and Louisa counties.
According to his campaign website, Reeves says he will fight efforts to pass “red flag” laws, universal background checks and high magazine bans.
He also lists “election integrity” as a top priority, criticizing rule changes passed by Virginia Democrats and vowing “to fight for free, fair, and secure elections so that we don’t repeat the disaster of the 2020 election.”
Reeves, now an insurance salesman, unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for Virginia’s lieutenant governor in 2017.
David Ross, a retired U.S. Marine, has lived in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties in the past 22 years and is serving on the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors for the 11th year.
A former chairman of the Spotsylvania County Republican Committee, Ross also sat on the Board of Trustees for the Central Rappahannock Regional Library (CRRL) system and the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (FAMPO).
He is a “program manager in the software development field supporting the Marine Corps’ promotion process and Air Force Amazon Web Services (AWS) Microsoft Azure Cloud migrations,” according to his campaign website.
“As your servant leader, I promise I will dedicate my time on the Hill to addressing the key issues that our nation faces,” Ross writes on his campaign website. “These include lowering taxes, rebuilding critical infrastructure, blocking mandates, protecting the First and Second Amendment, and bolstering the defense of our nation.”
Ross is against mandates on COVID-19 vaccines and masks, saying he’s pro-vaccination but “more importantly” he’s “pro-freedom.” He has vowed not to vote to increase taxes and believes no public funding should go to abortion clinics, his campaign website states.
Crystal Vanuch is the chair of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, where she says she is fighting for “conservative values.”
Vanuch, who grew up in Stafford County, runs a public affairs firm and describes herself as small business owner, “not a career politician.” She spent her career in health care, advocating “for terminally and chronically ill patients to gain access to affordable treatments for their conditions.”
On her campaign website, she touts her work to help secure $96 million to repair damaged roads and bridges in the district and for leading the effort to make Stafford a Second Amendment sanctuary county.
Vanuch says she is a strong advocate for keeping resource officers in schools, is anti-abortion and will make supporting the U.S.’s energy independence one of her top priorities.
Yesli Vega, a former Manassas Park police officer and former Prince William sheriff’s deputy, sits on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. She’s an auxiliary deputy in the county’s sheriff’s office.
A daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, Vega led Gov. Youngkin’s “Latinos for Youngkin campaign” and has touted endorsements from Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
On her campaign website, Vega says giving people more health care options will help drive down costs and calls for eliminating IRS penalties and to make health savings accounts tax-free.
Vega backs requiring all voters to show photo ID at the polls and says she will be a “fierce advocate for parental rights” in regards to schools.
“You and I know our conservative values of freedom, limited government, the rule of law, and a firm reliance on our Creator are the things that will turn our blessed republic around,” Vega says on her campaign website. “I’ve been a conservative fighter at the local level, and will be honored to advocate for those bedrock principles on behalf of you and your family in Washington.”
Stay with 8News for updates.