A scheduled congressional debate between Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Republican challenger Yesli Vega was canceled after disputes about who should moderate and concerns about security.
Spanberger, who currently represents Virginia’s 7th Congressional district, suggested she would not participate in the debate after she objected to the organizers’ consideration of conservative radio personality Larry O’Conner as one of the moderators. Her campaign also expressed concern the organizers did not provide the campaign with security plans, despite the debate being less than one week away.
The organizers, League of Women Voters of Prince William-Fauquier Area and Prince William Committee of 100, announced there would be no debate. This was the only debate that both candidates had agreed upon, which makes it unlikely the two candidates will hold a debate before the Nov. 8 election.
“Our efforts to accommodate the requests of both candidates for the CD7 congressional seat had not been successful,” the organizers said in a statement. “Our team’s work to find agreement between the campaigns of Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger and Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega ended in an impasse over security concerns and disagreements over proposed moderators.”
Vega’s campaign issued a statement criticizing Spanberger and referenced a proposed bill by Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-Dale City, which would change Virginia’s definition of child abuse to include a parent’s refusal to affirm a child’s self-proclaimed transgender identity.
“The reports of Abigail dropping out of this week’s debate are disappointing,” Vega said. “Our campaign has been nothing but accommodating, literally agreeing to every Spanberger request without objection. Abigail is scared to answer why she supports this extreme anti-parent agenda. Abigail Spanberger owes Virginia parents an answer. Does she support throwing parents in jail for not conforming to woke culture? And when will Abigail rescind her top surrogate’s endorsement for her campaign? She campaigned with her three days before the surrogate proposed radical legislation. Instead of standing up for Virginia parents, Abigail has apparently decided to run and hide until Election Day. Virginians deserve better.”
Spanberger did not address Guzman’s proposal, but issued a statement following Vega’s criticism.
“There is a clear contrast in this race,” Spanberger said in a series a tweets on Twitter. “Abigail has a clear record of accomplishments, getting things done in a bipartisan way, and delivering for the people and communities of VA07. Yesli Vega has an extreme record — asserting that women can’t get pregnant from rape, defending the January 6 insurrectionists, calling to shut down the government, and lacking any policy plans or objectives. It’s sad she played these games just because she is scared of answering tough questions before Virginians. This is a sad reality for the VA07 voters.”
With the election just three weeks away, the district remains one of the most competitive in the commonwealth, second only to 2nd Congressional district.