Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) has been diagnosed with supranuclear palsy and will not seek re-election to a fourth term, she announced Monday, making her the latest lawmaker to announce next steps for the 2024 campaign cycle in a closely divided House.
Wexton, 55, said in a statement Monday the Parkinson’s diagnosis she received in April was modified to progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare degenerative neurological disease Wexton described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.”
“There is no ‘getting better’ with PSP,” Wexton said, adding that she is “heartbroken to have to give up something I have loved after so many years of serving my community.”
Wexton, whose term expires at the end of next year, vowed to stay in office when she announced her Parkinson’s diagnosis in April, but said she made the decision to step down after worse-than-expected progress managing her symptoms, which have affected her speech and balance.
“Taking into consideration the prognosis for my health over the coming years, I have made the decision not to seek reelection once my term is complete and instead spend my valued time with Andrew, our boys, and my friends and loved ones,” Wexton said, referring to her husband and their two college-age sons.
Wexton, a former trial attorney and Virginia state senator, decided to run to represent Virginia’s 10th congressional district in 2018 as a rebuke of former President Donald Trump, she told the Washington Post. Wexton defeated former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) in the race, flipping the Loudon County seat from Republicans’ to Democrats’ control for the first time in 40 years. She won a third term by six points in last year’s midterm election. In an interview with the Post, she highlighted an anti-revenge porn law in the state and others focused on day-care regulations and granting women the right to breastfeed in public as work that she is most proud of.
Wexton’s announcement comes after several lawmakers have shared plans about the next steps in their political careers ahead of the 2024 election in November next year. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced last week he would not seek re-election, citing his age and the need for “a new generation of leaders.” Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also announced earlier this month she would seek re-election in her San Francisco district. Both Pelosi and Romney hold fairly uncompetitive seats, but the race to replace Wexton in her suburban district could be tightly contested—she won reelection by 6.6 points last year.
Rep. Jennifer Wexton Reveals Parkinson’s Diagnosis—But Plans To Stay In Office (Forbes)