CULPEPER COUNTY, Va. — In likely their only debate, Congressman Dave Brat (R – 7th District) and Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger faced off Monday evening in Culpeper, Virginia. The event was hosted by the Culpepper Chamber of Commerce at Germanna Community College.
Early in the night, Brat went after Spanberger on sanctuary policies for illegal immigrants.
“She said the states and localities can deal with these issues. We don’t need to cooperate with the federal government. That’s what sanctuary cities are,” said Brat.
Spanberger, a former CIA agent, pushed back.
“I do not support anything that would make our communities weak,” Spanberger said of Brat’s comments. “So, for you to allege anything else is frankly comical.”
Two of the key issued that emerged throughout the debate were making health care more affordable and the impact of the GOP tax cuts.
“We have insurers that are leaving our areas, leaving our residents, particularly in the rural areas, without options. That’s why I support a public option,” said Spanberger. “The public option I support is called the Medicare X Choice Act.”
“What she won’t tell you is under Obamacare, which she favored in the past, prices went up 150 percent in the last five years. Those are the stone-cold facts,” Brat said.
The candidates also clashed over what the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has meant for workers in the 7th district and the broader economy.
“When you put capital in the hands of the American worker, the American worker knows what to do with it,” said Brat on the tax cuts.
“Corporations got permanent tax cuts, permanent tax cuts,” said Spanberger. “Those did not trickle down to employees.”
For 7th District voters in the room, the debate may hardened resolve instead of changing minds.
“It needs to happen for myself, it needs to happen for my kids, it needs to happen for my family. This administration is extremely dangerous to us, and Dave Brat is a continuation of that. It’s time for a change, and we need Abigail,” said Spanberger supporter Monica Hutchinson.
“A good environment for us is less federal regulation, less taxes, and protection of property rights, and Dave Brat has been a champion on all those things,” said Brat supporter Kurt Christensen.
Libertarian candidate Joe Walton was not on the stage for the debate. Afterward, he said he was disappointed by that but wanted to remind voters his name will be on the ballot in November.