Virginia Democrat Wexton Secures Re-Election, Defeating Navy Vet Cao

Virginia Democrat Wexton Secures Re-Election, Defeating Navy Vet Cao
Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) addresses supporters at her reelection campaign kickoff event in Ashburn, Va., on June 20, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)
Terri Wu

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.—Two-term Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) stalled a potential red tsunami scenario by securing her re-election by defeating GOP challenger retired Navy captain Hung Cao.

According to the Associated Press, Wexton collected 53 percent, 152,557 votes, to Cao’s 47 percent, 135,502 votes, with 98 percent reporting as of 11:37 p.m. ET, to win the seat for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District (VA-10).

Wexton in her victory speech thanked Cao, and highlighted her fight to secure a better future for the next generation.

“My kids and your kids are why I ran for Congress in 2018,” the congresswoman told a cheering crowd.

“I want to build a future where they can get affordable health care, are safe from gun violence, have a sustainable planet and get a world class public education and get a good-paying job,” she added.

Democrat strategist Christy Setzer told The Epoch Times, “There were three races in Virginia by which to gauge what, if any, Republican advantage we'd see this election,” referring to VA-10, VA-02, and VA-07.

“We now know that Democrats have won 2 [VA-10 and VA-07] and have a shot at a clean sweep. That means not only were claims of a ‘red wave’ flat-out wrong, there’s still a pathway to Democrats holding the House. To do that would upend everything we know about what happens in midterms. It seems voters saw that Democrats hold the presidency and both houses of Congress and said, ‘Yes sir, I'll have another.’”

On Election Day, the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter listed a Cao victory as the indicator of a red Tsunami. Although Cao won the part of Prince William county that is more conservative in Virginia’s 11th Congressional District, in Loudoun County that has half of the voters in the District, he trailed Wexton by double digits.

The redrawn district is composed of the entire Loudoun County, half of the voters in Prince William County, and a few other smaller and red counties. Loudoun and Prince William counties have turned purple after years of voting blue. Loudoun has repeatedly made national headlines as parents in the area fight against the dissemination of quasi-Marxist ideology in public schools, including critical race theory that views America as systematically racist.

Even though the Cook Political Report rated the race “likely Democrat,” the Republican campaign turned up the heat in the final sprint. During a Nov. 7 appearance with Wexton in Ashburn, First Lady Jill Biden described the race as close.

And at a pre-election virtual discussion posted on Nov. 4, Wexton said she felt “cautiously optimistic” about the election. She said her opponent was “very able” and “looks good on paper.”

“He’s done a great job of presenting himself as a moderate, which obviously he’s not, so we need to make sure that we get out every single vote that we can,” she added.

In his final campaign ad, Cao said, “Jennifer Wexton voted with Biden 100 percent, even to hire 87,000 new IRS agents to come after you! Wexton is not independent, but I am.”

“I don’t fight for a party. I fight for all Americans,” he added.

While Cao’s campaign didn’t receive as much support from the Republican leadership as the candidates in the other two competitive races in Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin made appearances at two of his final rallies on Saturday and Monday.

On Election Day, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) stumped for Cao at a diner in Loudoun County after his appearance at a Republican candidate Jen Kiggans’ rally in Virginia Beach the night before. Winning the Republican House majority would start from Virginia, he said at the Monday rally.

During the Nov. 4 pre-election discussion, Rep. Don Beyer, the Democrat incumbent of the Arlington County area who on Nov. 8 secured his re-election by a large margin, said he helped with Wexton’s campaign, “trying to get the excitement up.”

Meanwhile, community support for Cao was filled with passion for issues such as education and communism. “Loudoun County teachers love you,” said an enthusiastic supporter at a rally in Virginia’s Haymarket on Nov. 5.

Republican Congressional candidate Hung Cao (R) with supporters at a rally in Haymarket, Va., on Nov. 5, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)
Republican Congressional candidate Hung Cao (R) with supporters at a rally in Haymarket, Va., on Nov. 5, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)

At the same rally, Marisol Gallegos-Marquez, a stay-home mother of five school-aged children, told The Epoch Times that education was the primary reason for her support for Cao: “I quit my job to take care of them [my children] because I didn’t agree with what was being taught in the schools. We respect everybody’s point of view but respect ours, and that was important to us: what happens to our country, our state, and our children’s future in America?”

Yet, Cao’s campaign failed to increase the turnout in the more Democrat-leaning and more populated Loudoun County to get ahead of Wexton.

In her campaign, Wexton tapped into her criminal justice background as a former prosecutor and judge in Loudoun County. “I strengthened the law for survivors of domestic abuse to get justice, got funding for local violence intervention, and closed the loophole so stalkers and abusers can’t buy guns,” said Wexton in her main campaign ad.

Other top issues for Wexton are access to abortion, voting rights, gun control, climate change, and LGBTQ rights. Local labor unions affiliated with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) wass a strong base for Wexton for votes and canvassing in the field.

She also called Cao “extreme” in her campaign ads. At a press briefing after their final debate on Oct. 20, she said: “I called him an extremist because his views are extreme. He’s extreme on gun violence prevention. He’s extreme on women’s reproductive rights, he’s extreme on January 6 and the insurrection.”

“Our democracy is definitely on the ballot this cycle,” she added.

On Nov. 1, Wexton held a joint press conference with the other two Democratic incumbents in competitive races, criticizing House Republicans’ “commitment to America” midterms agenda that included a goal to “save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.” The three congresswomen interpreted the agenda as cutting these federal programs, reiterating the Democratic Party’s message at the national level.
A few days before Election Day, Wexton acknowledged the burden of inflation on her voters, but cited the latest payroll numbers as the sign of “a strong economy.”
Terri Wu is a Washington-based freelance reporter for The Epoch Times covering education and China-related issues. Send tips to [email protected].
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