Representative Jennifer Wexton made it known on Monday that she will not seek re-election for a fourth term in the House of Representatives. This decision comes as a result of her recent diagnosis with a rare neurological condition.
Back in April, Wexton, a Democrat from Virginia, had previously disclosed that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but had expressed her commitment to continuing her service in Congress.
However, on Monday, the 55-year-old representative shared that her medical condition has been reevaluated by doctors, leading to a new diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which she described as a more severe form of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids.’
“I’m heartbroken to have to give up something I have loved after so many years of serving my community. I have made the decision not to seek re-election once my term is complete and instead spend my valued time with [husband] Andrew, our boys, and my friends and loved ones.”
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) September 18, 2023
The initial symptoms of Parkinson’s and PSP closely resemble each other, often causing confusion between the two conditions. PSP can affect various aspects of a person’s functioning, including walking, control of eye movements, speech, and more.
Jennifer Wexton, who holds the congressional seat for Virginia’s 10th District, which encompasses the affluent suburban areas to the west of Washington, D.C., was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. Prior to her tenure in Congress, she had a stint in the Virginia Senate, starting in January 2014.
Her decision to enter the political arena was driven by her strong disapproval of then-President Donald Trump. In a year marked by a significant Democratic wave, she successfully unseated the incumbent Representative Barbara Comstock (R-Va.).
Upon assuming her congressional duties in January 2019, Wexton drew attention by prominently displaying a transgender flag outside her office.
In a previous statement to the Washington Post, the Democrat indicated that her decision to pursue a prominent political career might not have occurred if Donald Trump had not been in the presidency.
Since Jennifer Wexton has opted not to seek re-election, Republicans are expected to view her seat as a potential gain in the 2024 election. In the previous election cycle, Republican candidate Hung Cao came close to defeating her, falling short by only 6.5 percentage points.