© 2023
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

A closer look at Republican Yesli Vega's successful primary campaign

Glenn Youngkin, Yesli Vega
Steve Helber
Winner of Tuesday's Republican primary for the 7th district congressional race, Yesli Vega, left, speaks to the crows along with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin at a restaurant Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Woodbridge, Va.

Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega is now the Republican candidate to run against Democrat Abigail Spanberger in the 7th Congressional District.

The origin story of Yesli Vega’s campaign starts with a moment of crisis as she explains in this campaign commercial.

"I was leaving church with my family when I received the worst phone call of my life, that my brother had been gunned down and nearly killed by MS-13 gang members," Vega says in the ad. "I knew then that I would join law enforcement to protect others in need and defend our community."

She went on to become an auxiliary sheriff's deputy and was elected to the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, where she supported a controversial program that allowed county law enforcement officials to carry out federal immigration laws. The focus on immigration is perhaps why two prominent Texas figures ended up endorsing her: Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Louie Gohmert.

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says she was also helped by endorsements from former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former Congressman Dave Brat.

"Vega's decision to come in with a lot of high-profile conservative endorsements I think helped push her across the finish line," Farnsworth explains.

The race between Vega and incumbent Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger will be one of the most competitive in the country, and perhaps even an early indication on election night of whether the Republicans will have a wave year.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.