22 Apr 2022
Virginia Republican Derrick Anderson, a former Special Forces officer, believes Rep. Abigail Spanberger is an “opportunist” campaigning disingenuously as a moderate as she seeks reelection in Virginia’s newly redrawn toss-up Seventh District.
Anderson, who served six tours overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, stands out in the district’s packed Republican primary race, he told Breitbart News, because he is the only candidate who can go “toe to toe” with Spanberger, especially on the issue of national security, one of her areas of expertise.
Spanberger, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined Congress in 2019 after serving in the CIA for more than eight years. Her work there involved “clandestine” intelligence-gathering in the U.S. and in Europe, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch profile.
Anderson’s story is one of on-the-ground combat and includes a tragic event in Afghanistan. Anderson was serving as a Green Beret commander in 2014 when five of his team members died in a horrific friendly fire bombing, an incident later shared in a CBS 60 Minutes special as a “cautionary tale.”
Anderson said Spanberger “can’t stand on her national security background when she’s never stepped foot in Iraq or Afghanistan like I have, and I’ve spent years of my life overseas, defending our country.”
The decorated veteran, who also holds a Georgetown Law degree, spoke about his choice to pursue a career in Congress, saying witnessing the Biden administration’s disastrous and deadly Afghanistan withdrawal in August was “sickening” and served as the “catalyst” for his decision.
The hasty mission included a horrific suicide-bombing that left 13 U.S. servicemembers dead, a chaotic rush to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies that was not completed in time, and a relatively underdiscussed U.S.-executed drone strike that the New York Times had exposed as a mistake that killed ten innocents, including seven children.
“When a gold star mother — which is what happened — called me and said, ‘Derrick, what is going on in Afghanistan?’ I truly didn’t have an answer for her because I was in complete disbelief and shock about what was going on,” Anderson said.
The Afghanistan fiasco appeared to be a turning point for President Joe Biden, whose approval rating at the time took a dramatic plunge and has since remained in rock-bottom territory.
Highly vulnerable Democrats like Spanberger who are up for reelection this year now face difficult headwinds from Biden’s unpopularity.
Spanberger accompanied the president in February to promote his behemoth Build Back Better spending agenda in Culpeper, a red county in the Seventh District, and in a sign of her potential challenges to come, the president was greeted with protesters shouting “let’s go, Brandon.”
However it is not Biden that would lose Spanberger her reelection race, according to Anderson, but rather her voting record.
Spanberger over her two terms in Congress has voted nearly in lockstep with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The Virginia Democrat has cast yes votes for all of Biden’s multitrillion-dollar spending plans; the For the People Act, which is designed to give the federal government more control over states’ election processes; D.C. statehood; H.R. 8 gun restrictions; the Equality Act, which would force gender ideology on those who do not subscribe to it; as well as DACA amnesty and pro-abortion bills.
Spanberger, however, attempts to convey a moderate tone that matches the toss-up nature of her new district, which she does not live in after redistricting but intends to move to.
She drew attention after significant House Democrat losses in 2020 for berating her colleagues in a leaked phone call, saying, “We need to not use the word socialist or socialism ever again,” because, she said, it is a losing message in elections.
During the same phone call she advised against the far-left flank’s “defund the police” rhetoric, but Anderson, a Spotsylvania native, charged that Spanberger never displayed that sentiment to her constituents until very recently.
“Nowhere in the district has [Spanberger] ever come out and said it’s because it’s bad for communities. She never said that it denigrates the service of our men and women in blue. All she said was ‘because I’m going to lose my seat in Congress,’ and now we’re starting to see that kind of backfire on her,” he said.
Anderson is one of several Republicans competing in Virginia’s June 21 primary in hopes of challenging Spanberger.
While Open Secrets shows Anderson narrowly leading the pack in money raised so far this cycle, other candidates closely trail him. Both Anderson and state Sen. Bryce Reeves have raised more than half a million dollars, while Stafford County Board of Supervisors chair Crystal Vanuch has reported about $483,000.
Yesli Vega, another candidate showing fundraising potential, ran Latinos for Youngkin for Glenn Youngkin (R), who won his gubernatorial race in Virginia last year in an upset victory. Vega, a former police officer, is rallying this weekend with a prominent figure in Virginia politics, former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, according to a press release.
Republicans have targeted the new battleground Seventh District as a pickup opportunity in their quest to take the majority. A Virginia Public Access Project map shows Youngkin won the new district by five points, and the election analysis outlet Cook Political Report just this week shifted its rating of the race from “lean D” to “toss-up.”
Seventh District Republican Party chairman Ben Hazekamp told Breitbart News Republicans are “excited about the prospects of firing” Spanberger. He is staying unbiased on the Republican candidates though, only saying, “From the voters, I am hearing about how hard their decision is to make going into the primary because of the quality of the candidates in our field.”
Anderson, who is backed by the conservative military group SEAL PAC, touted his small-dollar donations as an optimistic sign for his campaign.
He said, “Just last week we went to five counties, which is almost half of the district, knocking on doors and going to meetings in the evening and making calls to our local officials. I mean, no one is out there outworking me, not only from a fundraising standpoint, but from a grassroots standpoint, and our fundraising numbers come from 7,000-plus donors.”