Virginia GOP challenger confident in close House race that has outspent presidential campaigns

Millions of dollars have been spent so far on three congressional campaigns in hotly contested Virginia districts  — with one surpassing even the 2020 presidential campaigns and another close behind.

Advertising in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District topped $11 million earlier this week, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The 2nd District racked up more than $8 million.

Those races are roughly in the ballpark of the combined costs of advertising for President Trump and Joe Biden, which total more than $9 million.

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“I believe it’s one of the most expensive congressional races in the country already,” Joe Desilets, the campaign manager for the 7th District’s GOP candidate Nick Freitas told Fox News Thursday. “Just on TV and radio, there’s over $13 million between past and future spending in this election, and obviously there’s a ton more in mail, digital, and other campaign spending.”

Recent polls show him neck-and-neck with incumbent Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who is serving her first term after flipping the district in 2018.

Freitas’ campaign and supportive PACs have spent more than $4.4 million so far, compared to Spanberger’s $6.6 million. But Freitas is breaking GOP fundraising records, according to Desilets.

“We feel great about where the race is right now, and it’s clear that the Democrats are increasingly worried,” Desilets said. “Every time we turn around, they add another million dollars in attack ads.”

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Spanberger, a former federal law enforcement officer and ex-CIA case officer, is the first Democrat to win election in the district since 1968.

This combination of Sept. 29, photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

This combination of Sept. 29, photos shows President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden during the first presidential debate at Case Western University and Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

While at least three congressional races in the state are close, polls show Biden with an advantage in the presidential race. Virginia went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, and no Republican has won a statewide election there since 2009.

Still, ads supporting Biden have cost more than $6 million, roughly double what the other side has spent.

That combined total is barely ahead of the $8 million spent in the 2nd District race between incumbent Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria and GOP challenger Scott Taylor. Like Spanberger, Luria is serving her first term. She narrowly won the seat from Taylor two years ago.

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The 5th District race between Dr. Cameron Webb and Bob Good is also tight, with spending at around $4 million between the two camps.

The state’s Democratic Party summed the situation up simply in an email soliciting donations Thursday night.

“We’ve hit our fundraising goals every month this year, but here’s the thing: so have the Republicans.”

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Democratic House challenger invokes Ginsburg in new campaign ad

Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, who is challenging Illinois Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, is launching an ad Friday that invokes the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and ties the Supreme Court fight to her party’s broader push on health care.  

“A nation mourns, and your health care is at risk,” the narrator says as the ad pans to a black-and-white photograph of Ginsburg. “A Supreme Court controlled by Donald Trump could overturn the Affordable Care Act by the end of this year. Rodney Davis won’t help us. He votes with Trump and the drug and insurance industries that gave him over $770,000.” 

Although Ginsburg’s death has already infused pivotal Senate races with new campaign cash and an urgency to mobilize voters, Dirksen Londrigan’s ad, part of a six-figure buy, is among the first for a House candidate to draw on the fight over the justice’s replacement, linking it with Democrats’ dominant message of expanding health care coverage. Senators, of course, vote on judicial nominations, while House members do not.

The race for the 13th District in Central Illinois represents a potential pickup opportunity for Democrats and is a rematch from 2018, when Davis defeated Dirksen Londrigan by 1 point. Recent polling shows a similar close race heading into Election Day, with Davis considered among the House’s most vulnerable members. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tilt Republican.  

The new ad says Davis voted multiple times to “gut” protections for people with preexisting medical conditions. It’s a message that Democrats have used in other competitive races, including against GOP Reps. John Katko of New York and Ann Wagner of Missouri. 

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