Democratic congresswoman Jennifer Wexton said Monday she will finish her term but will not seek re-election for the northern Virginia seat she has held since defeating a Republican incumbent in 2018.
Wexton, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease earlier this year, said in a statement that his doctor “changed my diagnosis to supra-nuclear Palsy”. He described it as a “kind of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids'”.
The congressman, who is 55, added that he was “sad to give up something I love after so many years of service to my community”. But he said consideration of his prognosis for the coming years prompted him to decide “not to seek re-election when my term is complete”.
Wexton is part of a new influx of Democrats into Congress who have helped prevent control of the body in the middle of Donald Trump’s presidency. Before being elected to Virginia’s 10th district, an area that includes the western Washington DC suburbs of Leesburg and Loudoun counties through Fauquier counties, Wexton was a member of the state senate, a judge and a prosecutor. .
In 2022, he won the election again with more than 6%.
Wexton said he hasn’t progressed as far as he had hoped in what was once believed to be Parkinson’s. His new diagnosis – progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) – is caused by damage to the nerve cells in the parts of the brain that control thought and body movement.
The National Institutes of Health reports that most people with PSP develop eye problems as the condition progresses, and they tend to lean back as well as lengthen their necks. People with Parkinson’s tend to bend forward rather than backward.
The Washington Post reported that Weston told his staff about his condition: “It’s not OK. It’s not OK at all… I’m going to die, which isn’t fair.”
Wexton’s statement said he wanted to spend his “valued time” with his family and friends. He said that until the end of his term in office he was “confident and committed to continue the work that got me into this fight in the first place”.