Rep. Dave Brat conceded his loss to Democrat Abigail Spanberger shortly after noon Wednesday, issuing a statement that did not acknowledge his opponent and took a swipe at the media.
“The voters of the 7th District came out in record numbers for a mid-term election yesterday,” he said in a written statement. “While the registrars across the district are still reviewing the votes, it is looking like the voters have spoken in this race.”
Brat was narrowly trailing in the polls on election night. Spanberger claimed victory, but Brat did not appear at his own campaign party. Instead, a senior campaign official spoke, saying that the campaign planned to continue fighting as local registrars conducted their canvass. That fight apparently came to an end by midday.
Spanberger, a former CIA operative and mother of three who ran as a moderate, became the first Democrat to win in the Richmond suburbs since at least 1968. “They said this district was unwinnable, but this campaign was always about giving people something to vote for,” Spanberger said Tuesday night.
Brat was a little-known economics professor who rode tea party momentum to unseat Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a 2014 upset that shocked the GOP establishment. But after his election, he failed to make connections with those who backed Cantor, joined the hard-right Freedom Caucus and alienated some voters – particularly college-educated women, who mobilized behind Spanberger.