After New Diagnosis, Wexton Announces Retirement

Democrat Jennifer Wexton (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By Carolyn Fiddler

September 18, 2023

US Rep. Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) announced on Monday that she will not seek reelection in 2024 and will retire from politics to deal with a devastating new medical diagnosis.

In April, Wexton announced that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, but she planned to continue to serve Virginians as she sought treatment and hoped to use her platform to advocate for disability rights.

But soon the northern Virginia Democrat realized her symptoms weren’t improving with treatment, so she sought second and third medical opinions. Over the summer, she received a definitive, devastating diagnosis: progressive supranuclear palsy.

“I’ve always believed that honesty is the most important value in public service, so I want to be honest with you now – this new diagnosis is a tough one,” Wexton said in a statement on Monday. “There is no ‘getting better’ with PSP. I’ll continue treatment options to manage my symptoms, but they don’t work as well with my condition as they do for Parkinson’s.”

This rare neurological disorder mimics Parkinson’s symptoms in its early stages, but it typically responds poorly to treatment, progresses more rapidly, and has no cure.

Wexton initially sought treatment and therapy in the hope that she might see significant improvement in her symptoms. But after an intense regiment during the August recess didn’t produce the results she hoped for, Wexton realized she wouldn’t “be able to handle the rigors of campaigning in a tough district,” as she described it.

Before her election to Virginia’s 10th congressional district in 2018, the former trial attorney served in Virginia’s state Senate for five years. A mother of two, she says she’s most proud of the laws she helped pass in the General Assembly that help victims of revenge porn, regulate daycare centers, and secure women’s right to breastfeed in public.

“When I made the decision to run for Congress, this was clearly not the way I anticipated it coming to a close — but then again, pretty much nothing about my time serving here has quite been typical or as expected,” said Wexton. “I will forever cherish the people from our communities and all around the country I’ve come to know, the challenges we’ve faced together, and the ways both big and small that my team and I have made a difference in the lives of our neighbors.”

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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