EXCLUSIVE: A former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret and combat veteran announced Monday he was joining the race to try and flip what could be one of 2024's most competitive congressional seats from the Democrats.
Republican Derrick Anderson, who served six tours of duty throughout the Middle East as part of the Global War on Terror, told Fox News Digital he could "no longer remain silent on the sidelines." Anderson added he is running to bring leadership to Virginia's 7th Congressional District, which he argues is lacking under Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger.
"I have spent my life serving this country overseas, including combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Watching President Biden and Washington Democrats squander 22 years of sacrifices made by our service members and their families was the final straw for me," Anderson said.
"President Biden and career politicians are putting politics and their own gains in front of fighting for what’s best for the American people: safer streets, better paying jobs and cheaper goods, a secure border and an education system that teaches our children how to think, not what to think," he said.
Anderson served in the Army from 2006 to 2014 before his first run for Congress in 2022. That year he narrowly lost the Republican primary to former congressional candidate Yesli Vega. Spanberger, a former CIA operative, went on to defeat Vega in the general election by just under 5%, securing her third term after she was first elected in the 2018 midterms.
According to Politico, Spanberger has said she will run for governor of Virginia in 2025 and will forego running for a fourth term in Congress next year.
Virginia's 7th Congressional District has remained one of the Republican Party's top targets to flip from the Democrats and is, once again, considered a potential swing district going into the 2024 elections. A potential absence of Spanberger on the ballot could make that more obtainable and Anderson feels he is the candidate who can finally move Republicans across the finish line.
"Though I no longer wear a United States Army uniform, it does not mean I can no longer serve this nation. I pledge to be the representative the people of Virginia's 7th District deserve and are owed," he told Fox. "I will run a tireless, heartfelt and genuine campaign the people of the 7th district, the place that raised me, can be proud of."
In the video Anderson released as part of his campaign launch, he touts his childhood mopping floors and washing dishes in his mother's local Spotsylvania County restaurant before going on to Virginia Tech on an Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps scholarship, where he became the first person in his family to graduate from college.
"I'm running for Congress to fight for you, and to serve the country I love once again," he says, before listing the policies he would prioritize as the district's representative.
Anderson is now one of five candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the district.
Republicans currently hold a slim five-seat majority in the House of Representatives and are hoping to build on that next year, partly by capitalizing on the unpopularity of President Biden. The party gained control of the chamber following the 2022 midterm elections, but performed well below expectations.