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Democrat who ousted conservative lawmaker is ready to work with Trump, Republicans

Abigail Spanberger -- the Democratic congresswoman-elect who flipped Virginia's 7th District -- is keen on b...

Posted: Nov 16, 2018 6:41 AM
Updated: Nov 16, 2018 6:41 AM

Abigail Spanberger -- the Democratic congresswoman-elect who flipped Virginia's 7th District -- is keen on building bipartisan relationships when she arrives in DC.

And she just might start in the congressional gym.

Abigail Spanberger

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In a recent interview with CNN, she described a conversation she had had earlier this week with a colleague: "I said, 'How do I make Republican friends?' And he said, 'Only one way: It's at the gym!' "

Spanberger, a former CIA officer who's the mother of three young daughters, expressed excitement and optimism about her new role and the historic wave of women elected in last week's midterms while she was in Washington for orientation.

"It's amazing the way some of us have already bonded and become friends and found commonality," she said. "I realized this morning that my 4-year-old will probably not have any strong memories of me not as a public person, which is amazing to me."

In a district that was Republican red -- held by conservative Rep. Dave Brat, who famously defeated GOP Rep. Eric Cantor in a primary just a few years ago -- Spanberger describes herself as a pragmatist on the political spectrum.

"I want to get things done," she said over a cup of tea. "I want to move forward."

Her desire to work with a bipartisan group of members extends beyond Congress to the White House, where she thinks she can work with President Donald Trump to lower the prices of prescription drugs.

"He's the President," she said matter-of-factly, "So if we want to have legislation signed into law we have to work with him."

"Prescription drug prices should be a pretty straightforward place. It benefits the people in my district. It is consistent with the values of the American people for us to have greater competition and allow people to get the drugs that they need to stay healthy," she said adding, "I think there are other areas, particularly infrastructure bills, things into the opioid crisis -- on a related note -- where if we could make the right steps forward, ideally, we'd be able to make progress and get him to sign off on things."

Her opponent in the race, Brat, tried to paint Spanberger as a Nancy Pelosi-sympathist. Having never run for public office before, Spanberger tried to keep the race about policy, she said, "but it became a very personal race." She reflected more: "It was motivating but it was absolutely challenging. It was all worth it."

For the record, she doesn't support Pelosi for speaker, but she also doesn't know who should fill Democratic leadership roles, calling it "problematic" that no one has stepped forward to challenge the leadership.

"I really do think that it's incredibly important that if we are going to change the conversation in Washington we need to change the people having it and directing it. It's not in any way a negative assessment of the job that anybody is doing but at times cyclical change, I believe, is a good thing."

Another political issue she'll be wading into: the Democrats' desire for oversight of the White House and the Trump administration. Her initial reaction is that it's not a good idea for Democrats to focus on oversight investigations.

"I don't think that we should sort of all of a sudden say, 'We've got the majority, therefore we're going to march headfirst into investigating everything,' " she told CNN. "Where appropriate, I am in no way opposed to investigations. However, investigations for the sake of investigations is not something that I support, because there has to be a significant and legitimate concern. And there has to be a goal. And if it's diving deep into something just to prove a point, I have concern about that."

Spanberger, like many Democrats in the 2018 midterms, focused heavily on health care on the campaign trail, but the issue she is most eager to tackle in DC is campaign finance, after she says voters repeatedly expressed "a basic level of distrust of the government" on the campaign trail.

"I want to focus on a variety of things when I first get there but I think the place where we actually need to achieve first steps is on campaign finance reform and good governance," she said. Likewise, she has her eyes on a few committees she'd like to serve on, including Ways and Means, Intelligence, Education and the Workforce, Foreign Affairs, and Veteran's Affairs.

In the meantime, she's trying to enjoy the week of orientation exercises and bonding time with her fellow new members while she navigates the lottery system for offices ("I had somebody tell me, 'Don't be on the sixth floor of Longworth and don't be near construction in Cannon' but I don't know how you avoid the construction in Cannon!").

"I'm just trying to enjoy it at this point," she said with a smile, adding, "My husband keeps joking with me that I'm going off to college."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 726600

Reported Deaths: 13379
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion992781737
Lake53359964
Allen40387675
St. Joseph35449550
Hamilton35440408
Elkhart28376439
Tippecanoe22336217
Vanderburgh22271396
Porter18637306
Johnson17876377
Hendricks17154314
Clark12919191
Madison12574339
Vigo12426245
Monroe11845169
LaPorte11773210
Delaware10615185
Howard9859215
Kosciusko9366117
Hancock8239140
Bartholomew8042155
Warrick7766155
Floyd7645177
Grant7019174
Wayne7018199
Boone6669101
Morgan6547139
Dubois6148117
Marshall6000111
Dearborn578577
Cass5780105
Henry5681102
Noble558283
Jackson500472
Shelby489496
Lawrence4492120
Gibson434391
Harrison434271
Clinton426853
DeKalb425284
Montgomery423388
Whitley394439
Huntington387480
Steuben382957
Miami380266
Knox371890
Jasper362747
Putnam358560
Wabash353178
Adams340654
Ripley338970
Jefferson328881
White312854
Daviess295899
Wells290481
Decatur283592
Fayette278662
Greene276685
Posey270933
LaGrange264770
Scott264753
Clay259245
Randolph239781
Washington239532
Spencer231331
Jennings229248
Starke214452
Fountain211946
Sullivan211042
Owen197056
Fulton194640
Jay191830
Carroll188120
Perry182637
Orange182454
Rush172925
Vermillion168343
Franklin167735
Tipton162345
Parke145916
Blackford134532
Pike133034
Pulaski116045
Newton107034
Brown101541
Crawford99114
Benton98414
Martin87815
Warren81415
Switzerland7848
Union70710
Ohio56211
Unassigned0413

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1080121

Reported Deaths: 19344
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1254981392
Cuyahoga1115202107
Hamilton798171200
Montgomery512711012
Summit46997933
Lucas41982782
Butler38273580
Stark32190907
Lorain24910480
Warren24249297
Mahoning21474586
Lake20586368
Clermont19727238
Delaware18496131
Licking16396210
Fairfield16144199
Trumbull15996466
Medina15233262
Greene15027244
Clark13960297
Wood13056188
Portage12806201
Allen11609231
Richland11308198
Miami10659215
Muskingum8795132
Wayne8777210
Columbiana8756229
Pickaway8547121
Marion8511135
Tuscarawas8467243
Erie7859154
Hancock6900126
Ross6835152
Ashtabula6777169
Geauga6665148
Scioto6398101
Belmont5856167
Union570047
Lawrence5542102
Jefferson5511151
Huron5422119
Darke5344122
Sandusky5330120
Seneca5268121
Athens518258
Washington5148109
Auglaize488484
Mercer480185
Shelby468593
Knox4479110
Madison435461
Putnam4268100
Ashland421289
Fulton420969
Defiance418997
Crawford3965106
Brown392957
Logan381176
Preble379098
Clinton370561
Ottawa366279
Highland353861
Williams338075
Champaign330458
Guernsey315453
Jackson312051
Perry294550
Morrow283839
Fayette281449
Hardin270364
Henry268166
Coshocton264258
Holmes2590101
Van Wert242863
Pike237433
Adams237052
Gallia235048
Wyandot230654
Hocking215162
Carroll191247
Paulding172440
Meigs144639
Noble133337
Monroe131942
Morgan108323
Harrison107537
Vinton82415
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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We'll start Friday off dry, but the chance of rain returns. Scattered showers will be possible by late morning until the evening.
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