STAFFORD, Va. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Yesli Vega, the GOP county official and former police officer challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's competitive 7th Congressional District.
While Vega did not immediately tout the endorsement, Virginia Democrats moved quickly to highlight it. Over the course of his term, the former president ignited a wave of Democratic resistance in Virginia, a state he lost to President Joe Biden in 2020 by 10 points.
Vega told reporters at a rally Friday afternoon in Stafford that she had just learned of the endorsement — which was posted on social media Thursday night — on the way to the event.
“I've gotten a lot of endorsements. I’ve gotten the most important endorsements for me, which is the voters of the 7th District. So I’m really excited,” she said.
Vega said she was “laser focused” on the Nov. 8 election. Asked if the endorsement could hurt her with voters who were still undecided, she responded: “This race is between myself and my opponent, not anybody else.”
Spanberger emphasized the endorsement Thursday night in a tweet, saying: “Tonight, my opponent was endorsed by former President Trump. Virginians are exhausted by his division, lies, and hyper-partisanship."
Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform that Vega, a military spouse and former police officer who currently serves as an auxiliary deputy, would be a strong Republican voice against violent crime “and all other of the things that are destroying our Nation.”
A former CIA officer first elected to Congress in 2018, Spanberger has not campaigned with Biden — whose recent job approval ratings have been in the low 40s. She said bluntly during a recent interview that she did not intend to.
“I’m the one on the ballot,” she said.
She has instead recently appeared with local and state elected officials, and Virginia's U.S. senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. She's also touted endorsements from The Washington Post editorial board and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Virginia’s newly redrawn 7th District is centered around the Interstate 95 corridor in exurban Washington, including Fredericksburg and part of Prince William County, where Vega serves on the board of supervisors.
Sarah Rankin, The Associated Press