Rep. Jennifer Wexton announced Monday that she will not run for a fourth term in the House of Representatives after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder.
Wexton (D-Va.) announced in April that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease but intended to continue serving in Congress.
However, on Monday, the 55-year-old revealed that doctors had determined that she actually suffers from the more severe progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), which she called “kind of like ‘Parkinson’s on steroids.'”
“It hurts my heart to have to give up something I love after so many years of serving my community,” Wexton said in a statement.
“I have made the decision not to seek re-election once my term ends and instead to dedicate my valuable time to [husband] Andrew, our children and my friends and loved ones.”
Parkinson’s and PSP have similar early symptoms, leading to the latter being confused with the more common disorder. PSP can inhibit walking, eye movements, speech, and more, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Jennifer Wexton’s victory in 2018 ended nearly four decades of Republican control of her district. The Washington Post via Getty Images
Wexton said he was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy. Instagram/Rep. Jennifer Wexton
But PSP is said to worsen more quickly than Parkinson’s and there are fewer treatment options available. On average, patients with PSP tend to survive between six and nine years, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
“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 difficult,” added the 55-year-old congresswoman.
“You can’t ‘get better’ with PSP. “I will continue with my treatment options to control my symptoms, but they don’t work as well for my condition as they do for Parkinson’s.”
Before running for Congress, Jennifer Wexton served in the Virginia Senate and worked as an attorney.Getty Images
Wexton said in her announcement that she is “heartbroken to have to give up something I love.” Instagram/Rep. Jennifer Wexton
The Washington Post, reporting that Wexton broke the news to her chief of staff, reported that the congresswoman initially said “it’s fine” before changing her tone.
“It’s not good. It’s not good at all,” the lawmaker said, according to the outlet. “I’m going to die, which is not fair.”
Wexton, who represents Virginia’s 10th congressional district covering the wealthy suburbs west of Washington, D.C., was elected to Congress in 2018. She previously served in the Virginia Senate since January 2014.
The mother of two emphasized that she wanted to spend her remaining years with her children.AP
Her disdain for then-President Donald Trump inspired her to run, and she managed to dispatch then-Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) in a “blue wave” year.
Shortly after entering Congress in January 2019, Wexton surprised the covering a transgender flag outside his office.
The Democrat previously told the Washington Post that she probably wouldn’t have run for high office if Trump wasn’t in the White House.
Jennifer Wexton was widely considered one of the most moderate Democrats in the House. Getty Images
Wexton said she is committed to spending her remaining time in Congress “helping build the future we want for our children.” Instagram/Rep. Jennifer Wexton
In April, when he announced his initial Parkinson’s diagnosis, Wexton expressed his hope that he would be able to serve “for many more years.”
“I wasn’t making the progress I’d hoped to manage my symptoms, and I noticed that the women in my Parkinson’s support group weren’t having the same experience as me. “I sought additional medical opinions and testing, and my doctors changed my diagnosis to progressive supranuclear palsy,” she explained Monday.
“While my time in Congress will soon come to an end, I am as confident and committed as ever to continuing the work that brought me to this fight in the first place during my remaining time in office: helping to build the future. we want for our children,” he added.
Since Wexton is not running, Republicans will likely view his seat as a bounce-back opportunity in 2024, after Republican Hung Cao came within 6.5 percentage points of unseating his last cycle.