MANASSAS, Va. — Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega locked in the GOP win for Virginia's 7th Congressional District, which is expected to be one of the most competitive races against Democratic incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger in November.
Following a recent redistricting, Vega, a current deputy sheriff and former police officer, won with nearly 11,000 votes and beat out five other candidates including Derrick Anderson, a lawyer and former Green Beret, and Virginia Sen. Bryce Reeves.
With 63 of 64 precincts reporting on Wednesday, Vega swept Prince William County with about 51.85% of the votes. President Joe Biden won in the earlier district by 7 points, while Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin defeated his opponent in the same district by roughly 11 points.
"As the first conservative Hispanic to win a republican congressional primary in Virginia, this is a historic moment for Hispanics across Virginia and our nation," Vega said in a statement.
Born in Houston, Texas, Vega stressed her background in law enforcement during her campaign and highlighted her family history, which included her parents fleeing El Salvador during its civil war for a better life in the U.S.
She also received high-profile endorsements from Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Virginia Representative Bob Good and Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas who faces backlash for urging the Trump administration to help reverse the presidential election results.
In what will likely be one of the most closely watched races for control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Vega and Spanberger will go head-to-head with vastly different platforms and ideologies
“Regardless of who wins tonight, each of my potential Republican opponents has proven to be far too extreme and has failed to offer any kind of plan to tackle the problems facing Virginians," Spanberger said in a statement prior to the primary results.
Spanberger has held the 7th Congressional District seat since 2019, the first Democrat to win since the 1960s, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
Incumbents such as Spanberger usually have the advantage by bringing more attention to their areas and raising a sizeable amount of money for the campaign.
The redrawn district transitioned the base away from parts of central Virginia including west of Richmond closer to Northern Virginia such as Prince William County, and placed Spanberger's home outside of the boundaries. Under Virginia law, it is not required for an elected official to live in the district.
Both Vega and Spanberger could experience advantages and disadvantages, according to political experts.
"Vega, going into the general election, has to convince voters who are not necessarily reflexively Republican," said University of Mary Washington Professor Stephen Farnsworth. "This is particularly an issue in Northern Virginia where cultural warriors tend not to do too well with Republican electorates. The challenge for Vega though is this issue of being too tightly connected to far-right political figures. It will allow Spanberger to weaponize her."