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PolitiFact VA: Yesli Vega changes tune on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Yesli Vega speaks at a campaign event.
7th Congressional District candidate Yesli Vega campaigns alongside Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.) in June. Vega repeatedly promised that if she is elected this fall and Republicans win a House majority, she would vote against making House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy the new speaker. (File photo: Ben Paviour/VPM News)

Yesli Vega on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega ran hard to the right and lauded former President Donald Trump last spring when she won the Republican primary for the 7th Congressional District seat.

Vega repeatedly promised that if she is elected this fall and Republicans win a House majority, she would vote against making House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy the new speaker. 

Now that she’s running in the general election and seeking broader support, the Democratic Party of Virginia has accused Vega of making a U-turn on McCarthy. So, we pulled out our Flip-O-Meter, which measures whether politicians have changed on issues, and gave it a look. 

Vega then

McCarthy (R-Calif.) is distrusted by many of Trump’s most ardent supporters because of statements he made days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. In tapes obtained by The New York Times, McCarthy told Republican colleagues that Trump bore “some responsibility” for the riot, and he would urge the president to resign. McCarthy walked back his statements after they were disclosed.

Vega criticized McCarthy during an April 20 Republican candidates forum.

“I would not vote for Kevin McCarthy and it is because I am frustrated with Republicans,” she said in audio posted to Twitter by the Virginia Democratic party. “Weak Republicans that have no spine, we had a majority and all the Republicans did was put roadblock after roadblock to slow Trump’s agenda.”

She doubled down during a May 31 broadcast with John Fredericks, a key Trump organizer in Virginia, and again in a June 9 podcast when Fredericks asked Vega if her opposition to McCarthy “still held.” 

“Yes it does, John, and this is why,” she said. “When I talk to the voters in the Seventh District, folks are tired of the lip service they are not only getting from the Democratic Party but also from so-called Republicans,” she said. “They want fighters. They want people who will go down to Washington and fight for them and represent them, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“I can’t go up and down the Seventh District talking about needing change and not being committed to being a part of that change,” she added. “So, I’ve made those remarks on your show several times, and I stand by them.”

Vega now

Vega is seeking to broaden her support this fall as she runs against U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat. The newly redrawn 7th District is centered in Prince William, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.

Vega has scheduled a fundraiser in McLean on Oct. 18 with McCarthy as her special guest. We asked her campaign whether Vega changed her mind about backing McCarthy and got this written response from the candidate:

“Leader McCarthy has worked very hard to unify our party and build a massive operation to take back the majority. He has earned my support in this effort, and I am honored to be in the fight with him. I know that come November, we will take back the House, fire [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, and be the necessary check and balance on Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi’s harmful agenda that Abigail supports 100% of the time.”

Spanberger has voted with Pelosi on each of the 124 votes the speaker has cast in the current Congress, which began in January 2021, according to an analysis by ProPublica, a nonprofit news service. Spanberger has often been critical of Pelosi, however, and has not supported her for speaker since entering the House in 2019.

Our ruling

During the spring’s Republican primary, Vega lumped McCarthy in with Republicans who “have no spine” and repeatedly said she would not support him for speaker if she was elected to Congress and Republicans gained a House majority.

On Oct. 18, McCarthy will be the special guest at a Vega fundraiser. Vega said McCarthy “earned my support” through his efforts to re-establish a Republican majority.

We rate that a Full Flop.


Yesli Vega, podcast interviews, May 31, 2022 (3:07 mark) and June 9, 2022 (17:20 mark)

Vega, Oct. 18 fundraiser invitation

The Washington Post, “ Kiggans, Vega to define GOP direction in Virginia swing districts,” June 22, 2022

The New York Times, “ I’ve Had It With This Guy’: G.O.P. Leaders Privately Blasted Trump After Jan. 6,” April 21, 2022

The New York Times, “ McCarthy Said Trump Acknowledged ‘Some Responsibility’ for Jan. 6,” April 22, 2022

Politico, “ McCarthy mows down GOP detractors ahead of speaker bid — but the job isn’t done,” Sept. 12, 2022

Emails from Gianni Snidle, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Virginia, Oct. 7 and 10, 2022 

Email from Vega’s campaign, Oct. 7, 2022

ProPublica, “ Head to Head: Compare Voting Records,” accessed Oct. 10, 2022

Congressional Record, election of the speaker vote, Jan. 3, 2019 and Jan. 3, 2021