U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., left, gestures during a Chamber RVA sponsored candidate forum with Republican challenger Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Race Declared for Spanberger
U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., left, gestures during a Chamber RVA sponsored candidate forum with Republican challenger Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

With less than 2% of ballots remaining, multiple media outlets called the race Sunday afternoon.

RICHMOND-By Sunday, the lead became too big to ignore. Multiple media outlets called the Seventh District U.S. House race for Democratic incumbent Abigail Spanberger, starting with the Associated Press at just after 1:30 p.m. 

The former CIA officer led last Tuesday night, but media didn’t feel comfortable calling the race with 4% of the ballots still left to be counted. At that point, Spanberger held at 50.49% to 49.35% lead over Republican Nick Freitas. By Sunday, as absentee ballot results came in from Henrico County, the lead grew to 51% of the vote. With all but 2% of the district’s ballots counted, outlets including our election partner Reuters called the race

That means Spanberger returns to Congress after both a competitive race and a week where she made some controversial comments about her Democratic colleagues. In a Democratic Caucus call obtained by the Washington Post, Spanberger told her fellow party members they need to be more careful about what they say. 

“The number one concern in things that people brought to me in my [district] that I barely re-won, was defunding the police,” Spanberger said on the call. “And I’ve heard from colleagues who have said ‘Oh, it’s the language of the streets. We should respect that.’ We’re in Congress. [We] are professionals. We are supposed to talk about things in the way where we mean what we’re talking about. If we don’t mean we should defund the police, we shouldn’t say that.”

Those comments drew criticism from multiple parts of the Democratic Party. Her followup comments on that call, saying “we need to not ever use the word socialist or socialism ever again,” also drew fire. 

Spanberger argued that using those words did nothing but provide Republicans with campaign ad material. 

Still No Word From Freitas

Spanberger actually declared victory last Wednesday, delivering a speech and thanking her supporters. At the time, Freitas argued it was too early to concede, with 4% of the vote left to count. In a statement sent to media and posted on his social feeds, Freitas promised that when the canvass finished on Friday, he would make a statement. 

However Friday came and went without any word from the Republican candidate. His statement from Wednesday remains the last thing posted on the campaign’s social channels. Also, no one responded to Dogwood’s requests for comment over the weekend. 

This marks the second term in Congress for Spanberger. She beat then-incumbent Republican Dave Brat in 2018 to claim the seat the first time.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at brian@couriernewsroom.com.