A working mother of six from King George County won the Democratic congressional nomination Tuesday in the 1st District that includes Hanover County.
Vangie Williams, a strategic analyst for a federal contractor, defeated two military veterans — Edwin Santana of Stafford County and John Suddarth of Hanover — for the chance to take on U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland County, in November. She got about 40 percent of the vote, followed by 33 percent for Santana and 27 percent for Suddarth, according to unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections.
Williams did not immediately return a phone call for comment.
The political newcomer faces an uphill battle against Wittman, a five-term incumbent who won his last election with about 60 percent of the vote.
Williams and her primary opponents expressed similar positions in favor of stricter gun laws and single-payer health insurance, also known as “Medicare for all.” And all of them said at a recent forum that Republican President Donald Trump should be impeached, though they did not make anti-Trump sentiment a centerpiece of their campaigns.
But Williams, who would be the first African-American to hold the seat, was the only candidate to propose a tax exemption for military veterans, enlisted service members, first responders and teachers. She wants to exempt the first $50,000 of their annual salaries from federal income tax, saying she would close several corporate tax loopholes to pay for the proposal.
Her primary opponents criticized the long-shot proposal, which they said would not pay for itself and result in higher deficits.
Williams also said her gender would be an advantage because women are more likely to vote for other women, regardless of political party.
In addition, she said her family’s past financial struggles give her a unique perspective. She and her husband filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after Williams said the couple spent their life savings paying off medical bills for a sick daughter. She said she was in between federal contractor jobs at the time and that filing for bankruptcy was the only option.
“Who better to fight for hard-working men and women … than someone like me that has gone through the same challenges and struggles,” she said in an interview last week.