Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., who flipped a Republican Party seat in the anti-Trump Democratic wave during the 2018 midterm elections, said Monday she will not seek re-election in 2024 after learning her health problems had worsened .
In April, Wexton, 55, announced she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which she said affected her balance, mouth movement and speech. She said Monday that her diagnosis changed to progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare condition she described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.”
“I have always believed that honesty is the most important value in public service, so I want to be honest with you now – this new diagnosis is a difficult one,” Wexton said in a lengthy statement explaining her decision. get better’ with PSP. I continue with treatment options to manage my symptoms, but they do not work as well for my condition as they do for Parkinson’s.”
“I am devastated that I have to give up something I loved after so many years of serving my community,” she continued. “But taking into account the prognosis for my health in the coming years, I have made the decision not to seek re-election once my term of office has expired, and instead to spend my valued time with Andrew, our boys and my friends and loved ones.”
Wexton’s retirement opens a battleground in northern Virginia; the district includes wealthy suburbs and suburbs outside Washington, DC. But the region has turned increasingly blue in recent elections, and after redistricting in 2022, Wexton defeated GOP opponent Hung Cao by 6.5 percentage points.
Wexton, a former state lawmaker, burst onto the national scene in 2018, when she defeated incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., in one of the most closely watched and expensive races of that midterm election. Democrats in the House of Representatives returned to power as voters turned against then-President Donald Trump.
In her statement Monday, Wexton explained that her illness was taking a toll on her and it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage her symptoms.
“When I shared my Parkinson’s disease diagnosis with the world a few months ago, I knew the road ahead would bring challenges, and I have worked hard to meet those challenges through consistent treatments and therapies. But I wasn’t making the progress I had hoped in managing my symptoms, and I noticed that the women in my Parkinson’s support group weren’t having the same experience as I was,” Wexton said.
“I sought additional medical advice and testing, and my doctors changed my diagnosis to progressive supranuclear palsy – a kind of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids.’”
Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., praised Wexton’s efforts to pass gun reform legislation, crack down on human rights abuses in China and help the middle class as a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees.
“The entire House Democratic Caucus family keeps Jennifer and her family in our prayers as she courageously takes on this next chapter and continues to use her platform to raise awareness about neurological diseases,” Jeffries said in a statement. “Jennifer’s strength is an inspiration to all of us and we look forward to working with her through the remainder of the 118th Congress and beyond to support the millions of families facing this diagnosis and accelerate efforts to find a cure to find to promote.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com