Spanberger and Brat Heat Up the 7th District

Photo: Washington Post

Photo: Washington Post

Lawrence Jia, International/Domestic News Editor

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If our school is anything, it is politically active. Maggie Walker students pride themselves in contributing to local, state, and national political campaigns and have always valued political discourse in our halls. Most recently, many of Maggie Walker’s very own have been canvassing, calling, and organizing for the Virginia 7th District Congressional race between Dave Brat and Abigail Spanberger. Their televised debate took place in Germanna, Virginia this past Tuesday.

Dave Brat, a former economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, challenged from within the Republican party primary in 2014, achieving a major feat in unseating incumbent House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. This outstanding political victory represented an increasingly conservative 7th district and was lauded as one of the greatest political upsets in recent American history. Brat easily won reelection in 2016 by a margin of approximately 15.5%. However, Brat faces a formidable opponent in Abigail Spanberger. A new Trump-era political culture in the Richmond suburbs coupled with Spanberger’s outstanding service record in the Central Intelligence Agency has this race in a virtual dead heat.

Virginian statewide and national politics are remarkably respectful, as exemplified by the last gubernatorial race between Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam. Tuesday’s televised debate was no different. Both candidates focused on policy rather than personal attacks, exchanging barbs over fiscal policy, immigration, and healthcare. Brat touted his support of Trump’s new tax plan, which lowered corporate tax rates and, according to Brat, is contributing to a “booming economy.” Spanberger responded by noting that Trump’s tax plan is estimated to add approximately $1.9 trillion to the national debt. Spanberger was also forced to defend her stance on immigration policy, citing her years working with federal law enforcement as credibility to her position in supporting stronger border security and her opposition to “sanctuary cities.” Brat cited his support for Representative Bob Goodlatte’s immigration bill allowing for DACA “DREAMers” to remain in the United States.

But perhaps the most memorable aspect of Tuesday’s debate was Brat’s constant reference to “Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda”, which Brat acknowledged he mentioned, “a million times.” More factual and conservative estimates show Brat mentioned Pelosi on only twenty-five instances. This prompted Spanberger to assert that “[She] questions again whether Congressman Brat knows which Democrat, in fact, he’s running against. Because I am not the Democrat who supported single payer in the primary, I am not Nancy Pelosi, and I am not President Barack Obama.”

Working on political campaigns is a great way for Maggie Walker students to explore their interests and to accrue experience for future involvement in politics. Our students have enjoyed incredible success and fulfillment this year volunteering for the Brat and Spanberger campaigns. Marina Peebles (‘19) reflected that “Working for Abigail has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. I’ve gotten to talk to thousands of voters over the past couple months and meet hundreds of volunteers, and it’s been super rewarding.” Ross George (‘21) similarly posited, “While working at the representative’s campaign office, I saw people of every type come in every day to share their thoughts. I mean really, I gained an immense understanding of the enormous diversity of the 7th District. just from seeing these people and hearing what they had to say. It’s definitely inspired me to pursue a career in public service.”

Maggie Walker students, regardless of political affiliation, will have something to say about the outcome of the 7th district. As Election Day draws closer, students will have their eyes glued to the chase- informed by their perspectives as campaign volunteers, future public servants, students, and citizens.

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