“If your words are ‘defund the police’, they’re going to think you mean that. And they know the world is on fire,” she said after the police visit, sitting outside a Culpeper cafe. “They know things are upside down. They know they’re scared, they know there’s a pandemic. So why are you just going to say you want to do something that maybe you don’t want to do? »
Few Democrats expect crime to be their biggest vulnerability in November, with the GOP targeting inflation as the top issue. Still, incumbents like Spanberger say it remains a campaign issue and have intended to reach out to law enforcement communities at home.
Spanberger spent his morning in Culpeper answering the local police department’s morning call, touting his legislation to help officers and offering help from his district personnel. It was familiar territory for Spanberger, whose father had also worked in law enforcement.
“I know that some of your issues are the worst of the worst and the darkest of the darkest in terms of people, crimes that can be committed or people in their low points and challenges,” she told reporters. officers.
Spanberger is always in favor of confronting issues head-on — in his first House race in 2018, his campaign revealed that a Republican PAC had secured his request for a confidential security clearance. By the time the PAC used the information to attack her, she had already aired nearly 900 positive TV spots.
She also spent her decades-long career as a postal inspector and then as a CIA officer in her House job. During her four years there, she built a reputation as a national security hawk unafraid to counter her own party and work across the aisle.
“One of the things with Rep. Spanberger that I think is so appealing is her bipartisan work that she does and reaching across the aisle to get things done. And don’t get caught up in … ‘Rs versus Ds’, which I think the average citizen has had enough of,” said local police chief Chris Jenkins, who had also joined her a few weeks earlier in Washington to promote a bill. fight against drug addiction.
“I can tell you that I have worked with [former GOP Rep.] Eric Cantor… got along well with him. His replacement, not so great,” Jenkins added, referring to former Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus whom Spanberger defeated in 2018.
Spanberger’s outreach to law enforcement here in Culpeper County is consistent with the party’s broader guidelines for countering medium-term headwinds: Don’t let GOP attacks go unanswered.
The House Democrats’ campaign arm has urged incumbents to respond forcefully to GOP criticism of everything from policing to critical race theory, pointing out that internal polls and focus groups showing that their own rebuttal can help influence voters. Rather than denying their support for ‘open borders’, for example, Democrats need to explain their ‘true beliefs to fix the immigration system,’ a firm outside of Democrats said during a campaign presentation in february.
These types of culture war attacks were on full display in the Virginia state election last November, when the GOP won its first statewide victory there since 2009. The Republican candidate , now governor. Glenn Youngkin, seized on Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s record on crime, as well as a powerful backlash against school closures and curriculum struggles.
Now, Spanberger and his fellow battleground Democrats are hoping to avoid the same fate. And they’re not just concerned about the police. Immigration has also become an issue in Culpeper, where police have been tasked with locating unaccompanied Central American migrant children who had been placed with sponsors in the town but have since disappeared.