RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Democratic congresswoman Abigail Spanberger was critical of her party’s approach leading up to the 2020 election in a private caucus call Thursday, describing the congressional election results as “a failure” the day after she declared victory over Republican challenger Nick Freitas.
In the private call, which was recorded and shared with The Washington Post, Spanberger was candid with fellow House Democrats on her assessment of the party’s performance.
“I think that we need to be pretty clear about the fact that Tuesday, from a congressional standpoint, it was a failure. It was not a success,” Rep. Spanberger said on the call. “We hear colleagues come and go. This isn’t an issue of me being a first-term member and emotionally concerned about the fact that colleagues have left.”
The Associated Press has called 401 of the 435 U.S. House seats, with Republicans gaining six seats and Democrats losing five. House Democrats currently have a 201 to 193 majority and will remain in power but will lose the advantage gained during the 2018 midterms.
Spanberger also addressed key issues for voters, including calls to defund police departments, which the first-term congresswoman said led to the party losing members in the House.
“This is me recognizing that we lost members who shouldn’t have lost,” she continued. “I would request that at some point in the future as a caucus, we spend time watching the attack ads, the millions upon millions upon millions of dollars that were spent shellacking so many of us across our districts. That we look at the things that they say about us, that they say about the Democrats, that they say about the way we talk to people and the way we talk about things.”
The former CIA case officer suggested colleagues on the call may have shared details of the conversation to reporters, many who were live-tweeted during the call, and even addressed journalists who she claimed could have been conferenced into the call, telling them her remarks were “off the record.”
A spokesperson for Spanberger did not respond to 8News’ request seeking comment.
“The number one concern and thing that people brought to me in my district, that I barely re-won, was defunding the police. And I heard from colleagues who have said ‘oh, it’s the language of the street, we should respect that,’ Spanberger said. “We’re in Congress. We are professionals. We are supposed to talk about things in the way where we mean what we’re talking about. If we don’t mean we should defund the police, we shouldn’t say that.”
The congresswoman added that Democrats need to get back to basics in future elections, citing gains made during the 2018 midterms when the party flipped the House with wins in the congressional districts like Spanberger’s, Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
“If we want to talk about funding social services and ensuring good engagement and community policing, let’s talk about what we are for. And we need to not ever use the words ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again,” Spanberger argued. “Because while people think it doesn’t matter, it does matter. And we lost good members because of that.”
Spanberger goes on to say if her colleagues are considering Tuesday a success, the party will get “torn apart in 2022.” She said moving forward, she hopes they will “not just focus on keeping the congressional majority” but also convince the American people that their policies are what’s important.