Rep. Jennifer Wexton Will Not Run for Re-Election After Rare Neurological Disorder Diagnosis

The Virginia Representative announced she has been diagnosed with a neurological disorder and will not run for re-election in 2024

<p>Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/ AP</p>

Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/ AP

Rep. Jennifer Wexton announced on Monday she will not be running for re-election in 2024 due to her recent diagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare neurological disorder.

Before Monday's announcement, the Virginia Democrat, 55, was being treated for Parkinson’s Disease, which she was previously diagnosed with. Wexton has since been diagnosed with a more aggressive neurological disorder, which she described as “Parkinson’s on steroids.”

“When I shared with the world my diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease a few months ago, I knew that the road ahead would have its challenges, and I’ve worked hard to navigate those challenges through consistent treatments and therapies," Wexton wrote in a statement. "But I wasn’t making the progress to manage my symptoms that I had hoped, and I noticed the women in my Parkinson’s support group weren’t having the same experience that I was. I sought out additional medical opinions and testing, and my doctors modified my diagnosis to Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy – a kind of ‘Parkinson’s on steroids.’ "

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Wexton continued, “I’ve 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 a tough one. There is no ‘getting better’ with PSP. I’ll continue treatment options to manage my symptoms, but they don’t work as well with my condition as they do for Parkinson’s.”

PSP is a rare neurological disorder that "affects body movements, walking and balance, and eye movements," according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It is caused by "damage to nerve cells in areas of the brain that control thinking and body movements." While some of its symptoms are similar to Parkinson's Disease, symptoms usually develop in a patient later in life and it can worsen rapidly.

“I’m heartbroken to have to give up something I have loved after so many years of serving my community. But taking into consideration the prognosis for my health over the coming years, I have made the decision not to seek reelection once my term is complete and instead spend my valued time with Andrew, our boys, and my friends and loved ones,” added the politician.

Wexton was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 for Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. She defeated the two-term Republican incumbent, Barbara Comstock.

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Wexton was re-elected in 2020 and 2022. Prior to serving in Congress, she served as a Virginia State Senator. She and her husband Andrew Wexton share two sons.

Wexton concluded her official statement by emphasizing her sorrow to conclude her public service in 2024. “I will forever cherish the people from our communities and all around the country I’ve come to know, the challenges we’ve faced together, and the ways both big and small that my team and I have made a difference in the lives of our neighbors.”

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She added, “While my time in Congress will soon come to a close, I’m just as confident and committed as ever to keep up the work that got me into this fight in the first place for my remaining time in office – to help build the future we want for our children. I am truly humbled by the trust Virginians have placed in me, and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of our district.”

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