Republicans pick Freitas in closely watched House contest

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Republicans have picked state Del. Nick Freitas as their candidate to face off against U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger this fall in one of the country’s marquee congressional races.

News outlets report Freitas won a convention Saturday to be the GOP nominee for a Richmond-area congressional district.

Freitas, defeated state Del. John McGuire and several other candidates in a hard-fought convention that took several hours and three rounds of voting before a winner was declared.

Freitas is a libertarian-leaning former Green Beret who is backed by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. He unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2018 and had to mount a pricey write-in campaign to keep his state House seat last year after failing to get his campaign paperwork in on time to ensure his name was on the ballot.

He failed to get his paperwork in on time again this year for the congressional race, but a state elections board recently voted 2-1 to give him an extension.

Spanberger is a former CIA officer who is one of several freshmen moderate Democrats who flipped districts won by President Donald Trump, powered in large part by suburban voters unhappy with the president.

She defeated former U.S. Rep. Dave Brat two years ago. Brat, a tea party favorite, won a stunning primary victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014.