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Ginni Thomas endorses Yesli Vega in crowded Virginia GOP primary

Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas and a conservative activist, has endorsed Prince William Board Supervisor Yesli Vega (R) in Virginia's 7th District race. (Patrick Semansky/AP)
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Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, who is married to Justice Clarence Thomas and who remains under scrutiny for urging a top Trump administration official to help overturn the 2020 presidential election, has weighed in on a crowded GOP primary in Virginia’s 7th District, endorsing Prince William Board Supervisor Yesli Vega (R).

Thomas, a conservative activist who has injected funding and influence into GOP politics for years, rallied supporters of former president Donald Trump to back Vega in her bid to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in a message Vega posted Monday night.

Virginia Thomas urged White House chief to pursue unrelenting efforts to overturn the 2020 election, texts show

“Yesli Vega is an American First, movement conservative who I am happy to endorse in her campaign for Congress. For Republicans, she’s the Anti-AOC and the only candidate who can take the fight directly to the AOC backed candidate in this race, Abigail Spanberger,” Thomas said in a statement, referring to liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), whose political action committee has not donated to Spanberger’s campaign and who has not endorsed Spanberger. “I strongly encourage Trump supporters and movement conservatives across the Seventh and across the country to rally behind her campaign.”

Thomas’s decision to endorse Vega now is notable both because her involvement in pushing to delegitimize Joe Biden’s 2020 win recently emerged during the House committee investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, and, politically, because Virginia’s 7th is a competitive swing district that Trump lost.

While it is still a top Republican target, the 7th also shifted north to the Fredericksburg area after redistricting and became a few points bluer. But in a crowded race, with several candidates expected to be very competitive for the GOP nomination, some including Vega appear to be trying to capture as much of the Trump base as possible — where Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election can remain resonant with base voters.

Thomas has faced intensified scrutiny over her involvement in urging White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to fight to overturn the 2020 election results after The Washington Post and CBS News obtained and published text messages between Thomas and Meadows sent in the aftermath of the election. Thomas pushed Meadows to consider false claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election, originating from the farthest-right corners of the Internet. “Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down,” she said in one, using a catchphrase that became a slogan for supporters of unfounded claims of mass fraud in the election.

Those behind-the-scenes efforts have in turn raised questions about potential conflicts of interest, considering that Clarence Thomas was hearing cases related to the 2020 election and Jan. 6 on the Supreme Court. Critics and ethics experts have said he should recuse himself from all future cases involving the 2020 election or Jan. 6. Ginni Thomas has publicly denied a conflict of interest between her activism and her husband’s work on the court; neither has addressed the text messages or demands for Thomas’s recusal since the messages were released.

Ethics experts see Ginni Thomas’s texts as a problem for Supreme Court

Vega did not directly address the controversy in a message thanking Ginni Thomas for the endorsement but said Thomas has faced attacks. A campaign spokesman for Vega said she was tied up in board hearings all day Tuesday but passed along a request for comment.

“There’s an unusual and extra amount of hate reserved by the intolerant Left for female and minority conservatives who dare to stray and speak their minds,” Vega wrote on Facebook. “Ginni Thomas knows this full well and has been on the receiving end of it for decades. I don’t and wont back down from their attacks either. Thank you for your support, Ginni. Our prayers are with you.”

Thomas has endorsed in Virginia races in the past, as well as others across the country. Last year, she endorsed Pete Snyder in his unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination for governor. In 2018, she endorsed Cynthia Dunbar (R) in her unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination in Virginia’s 6th Congressional District.

Vega is expected to be one of the top candidates in the 7th District primary, as a Prince William County sheriff’s deputy who last year led Glenn Youngkin’s Latinos for Youngkin campaign while running for Virginia governor. She has leaned into Trump in some fundraising emails as well, noting in one, “I miss President Trump and his America First policies,” while in others she has sought to paint Spanberger as a “radical leftist.” Both Vega and another top contender, state Sen. Bryce E. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), have picked up other high-profile endorsements. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has backed Vega, and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have backed Reeves.

Reeves, a former Prince William narcotics detective, is leveraging his districtwide name recognition as a state senator in Spotsylvania and relationships through his insurance business in Stafford. Reeves, too, has leaned in to Trump’s base to some degree, as one of four senators to vote for a $70 million audit of the 2020 election in Virginia, a review put forth by state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield). The budget amendment failed.

Many of the candidates have not had to file fundraising reports to date, but those will be due this week. Derrick Anderson, a lawyer and Afghanistan war veteran, was competitive with Reeves in fundraising in the last quarter and is on a list of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s candidates to watch. Stafford County Board Supervisor Crystal Vanuch, who serves as board chair, entered the race later than the others but is also expected to compete.