State Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) came in third in the recent GOP VA-07 congressional primary. That’s a bad result for a candidate who entered the race with the most name recognition and ended the race with the most money, yet still came in second in Spotsylvania County and third in Culpeper County. Now, Reeves is expected to run for re-election in the 28th State Senate district, but he already faces an early challenger for the GOP primary.
“I actually thought he was going to perform much better, and so whether it provides an opening for me automatically, I don’t know,” candidate Michael Allers Sr. told The Virginia Star, adding that it does show a chink in Reeves’ armor.
He announced his campaign for the seat early, when it still appeared quite possible or likely that Reeves would be elected to Congress and leave SD 28 vacant, which could have given the relatively-unknown Allers a better chance.
But Allers’ son and campaign manager Michael Allers Jr. reached out to The Star Thursday and said, “With Bryce’s loss, my dad’s race is definitely even more winnable! We are feeling good.”
He added, “Bryce is now a candidate who’s now lost for higher office twice – the new district for the 7th is basically most of his old state senate districts, and he came in third – he didn’t fare too well in the districts that the 28th is made up of.”
Allers Sr. said, “The common denominator with the people that challenged Bryce was that they rarely missed an occasion. They didn’t miss a fair, a CulpeperFest, they didn’t miss a chamber of commerce meeting. The leaders, Derrick Anderson and Yesli Vega the winner, they didn’t miss an opportunity to tell folks their platform and tell folks what they’re going to do as congress people.”
He noted that the other candidates had an advantage – Reeves was in Richmond for the General Assembly session consistently early in the year, and occasionally had to return to the capital as late as last week.
“But he didn’t work nearly as hard as, say, Vega and Anderson, not even remotely close, or even [Crystal] Vanuch for that matter,” Allers Sr. said.
That’s similar to criticism from The Virginia Star’s Publisher John Fredericks, who endorsed Vega.
“He changed his positions multiple times, looked very much like a politician, and got beaten by a true MAGA America-first candidate who was unshakeable in her positions and outworked him, and out-campaigned him,” he said.
“This is a race where Reeves snatched defeat from the jaws of victory,” Fredericks said.
He added other reasons Vega won: endorsements from key Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Representative Bob Good (R-VA-05), and former Representative Dave Brat (R-VA-07). Additionally, Reeves has worked to close loopholes in Virginia’s gambling law with tightened regulation on bingo charities. Fredericks has repeatedly criticized Reeves on-air for that.
He said Thursday, “It was really dumb to do that when you’re running for Congress, where you alienate an entire swath of voters.”
Despite Reeves’ recent loss, Fredericks doesn’t think Reeves is in trouble in the 2023 GOP primary. Republicans are hoping to consolidate control of the General Assembly, where Senate Democrats currently barely hold the majority 21-19.
“In an environment where the Republicans need to pick up one seat, voters are not going to be willing to take risks on newbies,” he said.
Allers Sr. said, “In Bryce’s own words, what he said while he was running, was he was looking to be an impact player on the national stage. That’s what he was looking for. Previously he was looking to be lieutenant governor at one time. So he’s looking for other jobs. If I want someone to serve me and represent me, I don’t want that person who’s looking at the next job.”
Reeves’ campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment, but Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), who is from the area and helped Reeves in his campaign, sounded confident of a win for Reeves in 2023 in brief comments to The Star.
“The focus on state issues is probably the biggest difference,” Freitas said.
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Michael Allers Jr.” by Michael Allers Jr. Photo “Bryce Reeves” by Bryce Reeves. Background Photo “Virginia Capitol “by Martin Kraft. CC BY-SA 3.0.