Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, is acknowledging his unsuccessful bid to oust Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, from the congressional seat she flipped for Democrats two years ago.
Freitas hasn’t formally conceded the election or called Spanberger, after trailing the congresswoman by 8,270 votes in results certified by the 10 localities in the district.
However, the three-term state delegate posted a message to followers on Facebook on Thursday acknowledging that the “practical result is that the outcome of the election will probably not change here in the 7th.”
Spanberger’s campaign had no comment about the statement.
Unlike President Donald Trump, who is contesting his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in multiple battleground states, Freitas did not directly challenge the results of the 7th District election, but said the outcome “does not mean we should stop investigating to ensure the integrity of our elections.”
“Since Election Day our team has been observing the post-election canvasses, provisional ballot hearings, and working to ensure that every legally cast vote is counted,” he said in the statement.
“There have been many irregularities this cycle, and unfortunately we will probably not have access to all of the data we need for some months,” he added, without offering specifics.
Freitas urged people “who have offered to assist in further investigations or the financing of a recount” to send their money to a website for two Republican senators from Georgia who face runoff elections in January that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.
“To all of our team and volunteers I want to tell you how much I truly appreciate the time and effort you put into this race,” he said. “It has been an honor to be your candidate and to fight alongside you.”
(In a further comment beneath his Facebook post Thursday night, Freitas underscored that he has not conceded and has not "stopped fighting or investigating the results," but he said "we currently don't have enough data" to support a recount. He said that is why he is encouraging people who are offering to back him in a legal challenge or recount to instead back the efforts of Trump and the U.S. senators in Georgia.)
Grant Fox, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in response: “Instead of offering a concession, Nick Freitas is offering conspiracy theories.”
“He owes voters the truth, not excuses, and should join his fellow Republicans in accepting the results of the election,” Fox said. “Refusing to do so is an attack on our democracy.”
Freitas won his first election to the House of Delegates in 2015. He narrowly lost the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to Corey Stewart in 2018. His wife, Tina, lost in a Republican primary challenge of state Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, last year.
This year, Republicans nationally put money and weight behind his campaign against Spanberger to recover the seat the GOP had held since 1971 before she topped Rep. Dave Brat, R-7th, in the 2018 midterm elections.
She raised more money than Freitas, but he benefited from $8.8 million in independent expenditures by national political action committees such as Club for Growth Action, a super PAC that spent about $3.5 million on television ads attempting to discredit Spanberger.
A California native and former Green Beret, Freitas ran as a free-market, anti-abortion conservative with a libertarian streak. He also aligned himself closely with Trump — speaking at the president’s September rally in Newport News — and tried to tie Spanberger to liberal Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as Black Lives Matter protests in Richmond and other cities during the summer.
Spanberger framed herself as a results-oriented moderate Democrat and focused on the president’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while rarely mentioning Trump by name in a district that he had won by 28,000 votes in 2016.
She also faulted Freitas for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, including its provisions protecting health insurance access for pre-existing medical conditions, and for opposing expansion of Virginia’s Medicaid program to more than 400,000 uninsured Virginians.
In the end, Spanberger won the state’s closest congressional contest with the same playbook she had used against Brat. Spanberger ran up big margins in the Richmond suburbs of Henrico and Chesterfield counties to offset losses to Freitas in the district’s other eight, mostly rural counties. Spanberger won by more than 28,000 votes in Henrico and nearly 15,000 in Chesterfield.