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Republicans Vie For Chance to Unseat Spanberger

Nick Freitas holding microphone on stage at rally
Nick Freitas speaks at a rally on Tuesday. (screenshot from campaign video)

Six Republicans will compete in a convention on Saturday to take on Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-7th), a top target for national Republicans.

Four of the candidates forgot to submit paperwork on time to the Department of Elections.

Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpepper), a former Green Beret endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), holds a substantial lead in fundraising and has national name recognition among conservatives.

But Freitas is fighting back attacks from what’s now his second paperwork snafu. Last year, he was forced to mount an expensive write-in campaign to keep his House of Delegates seat after failing to file paperwork on time.

The Board of Elections voted 2-1 last week to give Freitas and nine other candidates — including 5th district Republican nominee Bob Good and 7th district candidates Andrew Knaggs, Peter Greenwald, and Jason Roberge — a pass.

On Tuesday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect House Democrats, filed a lawsuit  challenging that decision. The DCCC contends that the Board’s decision “upends the Commonwealth’s clear and important election laws.”

Regardless of how the lawsuit turns out, Freitas’s mistake has made him an easy target.

Del. John McGuire (R-Goochland), a former U.S. Navy Seal and religious conservative who is second in fundraising, seized on Freitas’ lapse.

“Forgetful Nick Not Ready for Primetime,” reads a McGuire  campaign ad currently live on Facebook.

Other McGuire ads attack Freitas’ votes in favor of marijuana decriminalization and allowing localities to hold referendums on casino gambling.

Religious freedoms advocate Tina Ramirez, meanwhile, has railed against mailers that accuse her of not being pro-life. She said the flyers were sent by “DC Super PACs” in support of an unnamed candidate..

“I’m a little pissed,” she told supporters on Monday. “You know that I’m a single mother who made the easy choice of life.”

McGuire said his position on abortion was also misrepresented in attack ads and blamed groups that support Freitas. Last month he posted a video of Freitas distancing himself from the attacks and acknowledging McGuire’s anti-abortion position.

The candidates have continued to hold events with supporters, most of them outdoors. They have generally not worn masks. McGuire made appearances earlier this year at rallies pushing Gov. Ralph Northam to reopen businesses.

Saturday’s convention will be held at Goochland County’s Meadow Event Park at the Farm Bureau Center. It’s only open to registered Republican delegates.

The winner will face off against Spanberger, who narrowly unseated Rep. Dave Brat in 2018. This cycle, Spanberger has so far raised almost $4 million more than Freitas, her closest competitor.

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Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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