Two years ago Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, narrowly won Virginia’s 7th Congressional seat. She became the first Democrat to represent the Central Virginia district in decades. But can she hold it? Republican Nick Freitas is hoping not.
He recently spoke to reporter Mallory Noe-Payne about the issues in the race and she has filed this report.
The Cook Political Report rates the seat as leaning Democratic. Although that may spell an uphill battle for Republican Nick Freitas, he does have name recognition on his side.
Freitas has represented the Culpeper area in Virginia’s House of Delegates for five years. He’s an Army vet with a conservative voting record. While most of his Republican colleagues compromised to support Medicaid expansion, he held out -- voting against the program that provided government-funded health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Virginians.
In our recent interview Freitas says a right to healthcare isn’t worth much if someone can’t access a doctor.
“Because a politician calling healthcare a right, or a politician writing a law saying that everyone gets access to healthcare, doesn't mean you have access to a doctor, a nurse, a hospital, a specialist,” Freitas said. “The only way that we can actually provide quality affordable healthcare is if we increase supply.
He says the way to increase supply is for the government to reduce regulations and get out of the way, including rolling back the Affordable Care Act. He doesn’t believe the government has a role in regulating healthcare beyond what he calls certain “fail safe measures.”
“And honestly, on a moral level, I think it's wrong for politicians to insert themselves into that transaction,” said Freitas.
Another moral issue for the GOP candidate is abortion. As a state lawmaker he speaks passionately about preventing abortions almost every year on the House floor. Freitas says the government’s role is to support women with unplanned pregnancies by vigorously enforcing child support payment laws, not by providing money to healthcare organizations that provide abortions.
“I'd be far more in favor of funding going to organizations that are actually fighting to preserve life and actually help women through that process -- not just of giving birth but actually supporting the child after they're born -- than I would with sending tax dollars to the abortion industry,” said Freitas.
But if he wins and heads to Congress the most likely thing to be top of the agenda is COVID-19 financial relief. Freitas supports waiving certain payroll taxes, and mortgage and rent relief. He told RADIOIQ he does not support increased unemployment benefits or direct payments to individuals.
“The solution can not be just the government continually handing out more relief checks on money it doesn't have,” Freitas said. “I'm really concerned that the government's going to get to a position where it starts using the printing press in order to actually finance the stimulus package that it's sending out.”
Freitas’ libertarian streak extends to other issues and often overrides party loyalty. He was one of a handful of Republicans in the statehouse who voted in support of decriminalizing marijuana. At the time he said chasing low level drug offenders isn’t a good use of state resources.
He also split with many in his party when he voted in support of no-excuse absentee voting, and he’s already taken advantage of the new system to vote for himself and President Donald Trump.
“It was a good experience...the registrar's office wasn't too crowded,” Freitas said. “I think that as people have grown more and more concerned about not only access to the ballot, but also the integrity of our elections, I think the early in-person voting represents a good option.”
Virginians in the 7th District can do the same and vote now, or wait until Election Day. The campaigns certainly think every vote will matter. They’ve spent more than $11 million on political ads.
Read or listen to our interview with Democrat Abigail Spanberger here.