The Democratic nominee for Virginia’s seventh congressional district, Eileen Bedell, said she’s challenging Republican incumbent Dave Brat this election because she wants to make a difference from Washington.
“I just want a better future for my children,” Bedell said. “We’re all on the same team, we just have to start working together.”
The Fairfax County native is hoping to unseat Brat in a district which Democrats haven’t represented since 1971. The seventh district stretches from western Richmond and Henrico and contains portions of Chesterfield Counties, Orange, Culpeper, Page and Rappahannock Counties.
Bedell received her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech before attending the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary. She has been practicing law for the last 20 years and has owned small businesses in that time.
While Bedell and Brat have a long list of issues they disagree on, Bedell highlights gender equality, equality for those in the LGBTQ community and immigration reform as issues that wedge the two most.
“Women need to have equal pay for equal work,” Bedell said.
However, she contends that equality goes much further than between genders, she believes the conversation on LGBTQ issues should continue to move forward.
“We are so far past, in the 21st century, discussions about who people love and choose to spend their lives with,” said Bedell.
In June, Brat penned an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in which he stated immigration “represents a major threat to U.S. national security.”
“Illegal immigration is one issue, fighting terrorism is another,” Bedell said. “I refuse to be afraid in my own home.”
Bedell said the most pronounced difference between her and her opponent lies in environmental policy. She is confident that Virginia can become a leader in clean energy, while also taking care of it’s coal miners during the transition to clean energy.
“Dave Brat is a climate change and science denier,” Bedell said. “It’s just mind boggling to me that this is in dispute.”
Bedell said social media has been a priority from the beginning of her campaign. It has been critical in her strategy of reaching millennial voters, a demographic which she perceives as less concerned with social issues and what occurs in people’s personal lives and more concerned with practical issues like jobs and education.
As the election season comes to a close, Bedell said she and her campaign are full of optimism.
“I’m going to do my best up until the polls open,” Bedell said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I could win.”
Elijah Lockaby, Contributing Writer