Rep. Wexton discloses Parkinson’s disease diagnosis
Virginia Democrat who won tough 2022 race will remain in Congress but notes "time and commitment" needed for treatment
Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va., announced Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, an illness that affects the nervous system.
Wexton, 54, said the disease has primarily affected her speech, manner of walking and balance, and she plans to remain in Congress as she undergoes treatment.
“I’m not going to let Parkinson’s stop me from being me,” Wexton said in a Tuesday video announcing her diagnosis. “I am confident that as I work with my doctor to get the treatment I need, I can continue being a working mom and an active member of our community.”
Wexton, a member of the Appropriations Committee, made the announcement on World Parkinson’s Day. She said she is “feeling good and staying strong.”
Wexton said she speaks more quickly since her diagnosis, which she said has affected how she walks and keeps her balance. She said she hopes to remain in Congress “for many years to come” as she fights the disease, though it wasn’t immediately clear how much her treatment plan would keep her away from votes in the narrowly divided House.
“The treatment process is one that involves time and commitment, so you’re going to see me have good days and some days that are not so good,” she said. “But I want you to know this: My head and my heart are 100 percent committed to serving the people of Virginia, and especially my constituents.”
Wexton, who also serves on the Budget Committee, represents an affluent suburban Northern Virginia district. She was first elected in 2018, when she flipped a seat that had been in Republican hands for more than three decades.
Wexton has since been reelected twice, most recently by a narrower margin of 53 percent to 47 percent in a redrawn district heavily targeted by Republicans in the 2022 midterms. Her constituents backed President Joe Biden by an 18-point margin over former President Donald Trump in 2020.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which had slotted Wexton into their Frontline program to defend endangered incumbents in the 2022 cycle, earlier this year left her off its initial Frontline list for the 2024 campaign.