Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said Friday that the “defund the police” movement championed by progressives led to losses for Democrats in the recent election.
“I think the ability, using terms like ‘defund the police’ have led to Democratic losses in this last year,” Warner, a moderate Democrat, said in an interview with WAMU, The Hill reported.
Warner had been asked about Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s critique during a closed-door meeting of House Democrats last week that she nearly lost her re-election bid because of the push to defund police departments.
“We lost races we shouldn’t have lost. Defund police almost cost me my race because of an attack ad. Don’t say socialism ever again,” Spanberger said during the Nov. 6 meeting.
“If we run this race again we will get fucking torn apart again in 2022,” she also said.
Warner defended Spanberger’s stance, saying that she does not have the luxury of running in heavily progressive districts, such as those in Brooklyn or the Bronx.
“I sometimes think our progressive friends don’t have that necessity of running both districts that are quite forward leaning but parts of districts that are still pretty conservative,” Warner said.
Spanberger’s and Warner’s remarks appear to be aimed at House Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, who have called for defunding police departments in the wake of the police-involved deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Going into election day, Democrats hoped to gain seats in the House and secure majority control of the Senate. Instead, Republicans flipped a net total of at least seven seats, according to the Associated Press. Thirteen races remain too close to call.
Republicans will also head into the next term with at least 50 seats in the upper chamber. Majority control hinges on two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5. Republicans have to win at least one of those races to retain their majority.
Warner said that while he opposes defunding the police, he supports police reform.
“I didn’t and do not support defunding the police, but I also believe in strong police reform,” he said in the interview.