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Spanberger claims victory, Brat won’t concede 7th Congressional District

Posted at 9:37 PM, Nov 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-07 12:12:39-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- In the most competitive race of Election Day, Democratic challenger Abigail Spanberger holds a slight lead over incumbent Republican Dave Brat in the race for the 7th Congressional House seat.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting,  Spanberger received 50.31 percent of the vote (175,794) to 48.43 percent (169,220) for Brat.

Spanberger claimed victory during her campaign party Tuesday night.

"We did it... We did it," said Spanberger, as the crowd chanted Abby, Abby, Abby.

"I am honored to stand before you as the congresswoman-elect from Virginia's 7th District," she proclaimed.

“We succeeded at the polls tonight because voters rejected the politics of hate. The politics of division and the politics of ideology,” said Spanberger. “Voters chose our campaign, our message because we were steadfast in our focus on the policies that are important to the lives and because we remained committed to providing them with the kind of engaged leadership they deserve.”

Melissa Hipolit reports that Brat is not conceding the race and will not speak at his campaign party Tuesday night due to the close race.

A senior campaign staffer tells CBS 6 that Brat still believes he will come out ahead.

The race was considered a “toss up” by political analysts despite the dominance of Republicans in the 7th District. In fact, the 7th District last elected a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968.

“Right now, It’s too early to call, but I think we have to say that Abigail Spanberger looks like she’s ahead, unless we have some kind of reporting glitch or unless the Republicans do extraordinarily well in absentee ballots in Chesterfield and Henrico,” said CBS 6 Political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth.

“This is a big, big accomplishment if the Democrats can take this,” he added.

Holsworth credits Spanberger's 17,000 vote margin in Henrico and nearly an 8,000 vote margin in Chesterfield for her lead over Brat.

Spanberger, a former C.I.A. operative, grew up in Short Pump and attended J.R. Tucker High School. She listed healthcare and gun violence prevention as the top two issues on her campaign website.

Brat, a college professor at Randolph-Macon, created a political earthquake in the 2014 primaries when he beat out then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who had held the seat since 2001.

The hotly contested 7th District race between Brat and Spanberger has been credited for record voting in a midterm election.

General Registrar and Director of Elections in Chesterfield County, Constance Tyler, told CBS 6 that absentee voting in the county was roughly triple what they were in the last midterm election.

"Compared to other midterm elections there is no comparison," Tyler said.

Powhatan, Chesterfield, and Culpeper registrars reported especially high voter turnout Tuesday, describing the day as “crazy” and with “lots of buzz.” The localities compared this year’s voter turnout to a presidential election level.

The 7th U.S. House District stretches from Culpeper south to Blackstone staying just west of the city of Richmond. Portions of includes Chesterfield, Henrico, and Spotsylvania counties.