Richmond Times-Dispatch

Without conceding, Freitas accepts loss

GOP challenger says outcome is unlikely to change in 7th District

- BY MICHAEL MARTZ Richmond Times-Dispatch

Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, is acknowledg­ing his unsuccessf­ul bid to oust Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, from the congressio­nal seat she flipped for Democrats two years ago.

Freitas hasn’t formally conceded the election or called Spanberger, after trailing the congresswo­man by 8,270 votes in results certified by the 10 localities in the district.

However, the threeterm state delegate posted a message to followers on Facebook on Thursday acknowledg­ing that the “practical result is that the outcome of the election will probably not change here in the 7th.”

Spanberger’s campaign had no comment about the statement.

Unlike President Donald Trump, who is contesting his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in multiple battlegrou­nd states, Freitas did not directly challenge the results of the 7th District election, but said the outcome “does not mean we should stop investigat­ing to ensure the integrity of our elections.”

“Since Election Day our team has been observing the post-election canvasses, provisiona­l ballot hearings, and working to ensure that every legally cast vote is counted,” he said in the statement.

“There have been many irregulari­ties this cycle, and unfortunat­ely we will probably not have access to all of the data we need for some months,” he added, without offering specifics.

Freitas urged people “who have offered to assist in further investigat­ions or the financing of a recount” to send their money to a website for two Republican senators from Georgia who face runoff elections in January that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

“To all of our team and volunteers I want to tell you how much I truly appreciate the time and effort you put into this race,” he said. “It has been an honor to be your candidate and to fight alongside you.”

Grant Fox, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in response: “Instead of offering a concession, Nick Freitas is offering conspiracy theories.”

“He owes voters the truth, not excuses, and should join his fellow Republican­s in accepting the results of the election,” Fox said. “Refusing to do so is an attack on our

Del. Nick Freitas (left), R-Culpeper, and campaign manager Joe Desilets watched results on election night. Freitas was unsuccessf­ul in ousting Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th.

democracy.”

Freitas won his first election to the House of Delegates in 2015. He narrowly lost the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to Corey Stewart in 2018. His wife, Tina, lost in a Republican primary challenge of state Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, last year.

This year, Republican­s nationally put money and weight behind his campaign against Spanberger to recover the seat the GOP had held since 1971 before she topped Rep. Dave Brat, R-7th, in the 2018 midterm elections.

She raised more money than Freitas, but he benefited from $8.8 million in independen­t expenditur­es by national political action committees such as Club for Growth Action, a super PAC that spent about $3.5 million on television ads attempting to discredit Spanberger.

A California native and former Green Beret, Freitas ran as a free-market, anti-abortion conservati­ve with a libertaria­n streak. He also aligned himself closely with Trump — speaking at the president’s September rally in Newport News — and tried to

tie Spanberger to liberal Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as Black Lives Matter protests in Richmond and other cities during the summer.

Spanberger framed herself as a results-oriented moderate Democrat and focused on the president’s response to the COVID19 pandemic, while rarely mentioning Trump by name in a district that he had won by 28,000 votes in 2016.

She also faulted Freitas for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, including its provisions protecting health insurance access for pre-existing medical conditions, and for opposing expansion of Virginia’s Medicaid program to more than 400,000 uninsured Virginians.

In the end, Spanberger won the state’s closest congressio­nal contest with the same playbook she had used against Brat. Spanberger ran up big margins in the Richmond suburbs of Henrico and Chesterfie­ld counties to offset losses to Freitas in the district’s other eight, mostly rural counties. Spanberger won by more than 28,000 votes in Henrico and nearly 15,000 in Chesterfie­ld.

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Rep. Abigail Spanberger.
Del. Nick Freitas ,a three-term state delegate aligned with President Donald Trump, lost his bid for the 7th District House seat by 8,270 votes to Rep. Abigail Spanberger.
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BOB BROWN/TIMES-DISPATCH
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