Two CIA Democrats, Abigail Spanberger and Elissa Slotkin, are seeking higher offices

Abigail Spanberger, a three-time House Democratic Representative from Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, has let it be known that she plans to run for governor in 2025, and will likely give up her seat in the House of Representatives next year as a result, according to the online publication Politico.

A former CIA agent, Spanberger would join Elissa Slotkin, another former CIA agent, who is seeking a vacant seat in the US Senate next year and will also give up her seat in the House of Representatives.

Spanberger and Slotkin are among more than a dozen members of the House of Representatives who have entered Congress since 2018 from active service in the CIA, military or State Department, whom the World Socialist Web Site has labeled the CIA Democrats.

This group has been deliberately promoted by the Democratic Party leadership and given prominent roles in the caucus leadership. Six of the CIA Democrats signed an op-ed advocating the 2019 impeachment of Trump over his disruption of US military aid to Ukraine. One of the six, Jason Crow, a former Army paratrooper in Afghanistan, was a House impeachment manager.

Spanberger herself was promoted this year to a leadership position as head of a newly formed House Democratic caucus aimed at winning tightly contested elections in so-called “battleground” states. In addition, she sits on the high-powered House Intelligence Committee, overseeing the same agency in which she worked for 12 years, mainly in Europe.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Democratic-Virginia speaks about her past work as a Central Intelligence Agency officer and her recent appointment to the House Intelligence Committee during an interview at her congressional offices in Washington on Wednesday, February 8, 2023. [AP Photo/Nathan Howard]

Spanberger was first elected in 2018 in a district stretching north from the suburbs of Richmond to the fringes of Northern Virginia, defeating incumbent Republican ultra-rightist David Brat, benefitting from the wave of popular revulsion over the first two years of the Trump administration.

While she has not officially declared her intent to run for governor, she has dropped more than hints, generating a string of media reports last week based on comments by “top political aides” and “four Democrats” in Virginia and two members of Congress, all obviously intended to build up support for her eventual run. 

Politico commented that Spanberger, “a powerhouse fundraiser who recently earned a spot at House Democrats’ leadership table, has been laying the groundwork for a statewide run for months—even years.” 

She would seek to take over the governorship from Republican Glenn Youngkin, who is limited to a single term by state law.

Spanberger has reportedly raised over $1.2 million for a reelection bid to Congress, but under state law she can transfer that to a gubernatorial campaign. In 2022, she raised more than $9 million for her House campaign, one of the largest sums for any representative.

After narrowly winning reelection in 2020, a year in which a significant number of incumbent Democrats were defeated, Spanberger made a series of notorious comments denouncing the influence of “The Squad” and Senator Bernie Sanders, who posture as “socialists” while advocating thoroughly pro-capitalist measures.

She demanded, in a Democratic caucus meeting, that no Democratic candidate should ever again use the word “socialism” to describe his or her policies, claiming that this had fueled Republican campaign propaganda and led to the loss of House seats even though Biden defeated Trump in the presidential contest.

Spanberger is continually described in the corporate press as a political “moderate” but is, in fact, a staunchly right-wing politician. She combines appeals to gender politics with vociferous support for the police, fiscal austerity and the US military and foreign policy establishment.

Her most recent press release touts her refusal to vote to raise the US federal debt ceiling without first discussing “our nation’s finances openly before taking an action as important as raising the ceiling on appropriations for the upcoming fiscal year.” Spanberger previously criticized Democratic President Joe Biden’s so-called “leftist” spending policies enacted during the pandemic.

Spanberger’s political physiognomy is identical to Slotkin’s, although Slotkin has taken the lead on national security issues while Spanberger has focused more on fiscal and law-and-order domestic issues.

Slotkin, like Spanberger, has had access to a massive fundraising network and has regularly outspent Republican opponents by a wide margin. This support from Wall Street and “retired” military-intelligence operatives is supplemented in Slotkin’s case by a wealthy family, which owned Detroit-based Hygrade Foods and produced Ball Park Franks, sold at many sporting events.

Slotkin has the odious distinction of overseeing war crimes by both Republican and Democratic administrations, moving from the CIA in Iraq to the National Security Council in the Bush White House, a similar position in the Obama White House, before being promoted to a higher position in the civilian hierarchy at the Department of Defense.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, left, Democratic-Michigan, and then-Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican-Wyoming, leave a campaign rally Tuesday, November 1, 2022, in East Lansing, Michigan, where Slotkin received the support of Cheney. [AP Photo/Carlos Osorio]

Since entering Congress two years after she left the Pentagon, Slotkin has become one of the leading Democratic Party voices on foreign and military policy, appearing regularly on national television programs and being heavily promoted as a future senator.

When Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan announced she would retire in 2024, the state Democratic Party effectively cleared the field for Slotkin, ensuring that no elected Democrat in the state would challenge her for the nomination. Only actor Hill Harper, who is able to finance his own campaign, has joined the race, and Slotkin is heavily favored.

The emergence of the CIA Democrats was part of the overall shift to the right by the Democratic Party, which included strengthening its ties with the military-intelligence agencies during the Trump administration. It was part of the effort by the Democrats to divert popular opposition to Trump, on a wide range of issues, into the reactionary anti-Russia campaign.

There are additional military-intelligence concerns in the Spanberger campaign in Virginia. The state is home to key intelligence and military installations, including the headquarters for both the military and the CIA. 

In addition, it also houses critical facilities essential for manufacture and infrastructure. One-third of the world’s internet traffic flows through the complex of data centers which have been built in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C.

Another aspect of the promotion of the CIA Democrats is related to the class struggle itself. Last week, the Washington Post’s conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote favorably of Spanberger’s anticipated gubernatorial run, as well as that of the Senate campaign of Slotkin.

“Spanberger and Slotkin,” writes Rubin, are “models for fellow Democrats worried about losing the heartland and/or working-class White voters.” They “refute the GOP talking point that Democrats are a bunch of socialists. 

“At a time when deep tribalism pervades politics and the Republican Party has descended into reactionary nationalism, these are the sort of politicians … who can appeal to Democrats, independents and the kind of normal Republicans [who the] defeated and indicted former president Donald Trump alienated,” she enthuses. 

So the answer to the fascistic drift of the Republican Party is to promote representatives of the bloodiest and most reactionary institution on the planet, the Central Intelligence Agency, whose operatives are to be presented as “normal” and “moderate.”