He’s a former Trump administration official. He loves basketball, speaks fluent Spanish, and at 32 years old, Nick Bell is running a one-man campaign to replace one of one of the Virginia state legislature’s key abortion proponents.
It’s one of the hottest days of the sweltering, humid Northern Virginia summer as Bell sits down at a sandwich shop with me just a few minutes from his home in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Annandale. Over his roast beef and cheddar sandwich, Bell says that he’s running a pro-life insurgency campaign for the Virginia House of Delegates to help make his home state into “something that people can be proud of” again after the commonwealth’s infanticide fiasco earlier this year.
Bell isn’t running against the lead sponsor of Virginia’s now-infamous infanticide bill, Democratic lawmaker Kathy Tran; instead, his district (the 39th) is located right next to Tran’s, where he’s running against Tran’s fellow abortion supporter Democratic delegate Vivian Watts.
“I always say Vivian Watts makes Kathy Tran look like an angel,” Bell explains. “She has this long history of being very pro-abortion.”
Watts supported Tran’s infanticide bill in the subcommittee that voted to move forward on the bill. In the past, Bell says, Watts also opposed “many versions” of the state’s 1997 partial birth abortion ban and and also voted against “every single version” of a 2003 Virginia abortion law that prohibits doctors from making an “outright act” to kill a child who survives an abortion, but doesn’t prohibit them from letting them die.
That loophole, Bell explains, is what informed Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s January comments about keeping infants “comfortable” while deciding whether or not to let them die.
“So one of my positions is we need to put a bill forward like the [federal Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act] to say, ‘Okay, we have to provide medical care to babies who survive a failed abortion,'” Bell explains.
Bell also realizes that because he’s running in deep-blue Northern Virginia against a longtime state legislator, the odds are stacked heavily against him. However, he says that he’s banking on hopes that the infanticide fiasco went too far, even for those who call themselves “pro-choice.”
“I think people are horrified of what [pro-abortion Democrats] are doing,” Bell says of the “extreme position” of the state’s infanticide bill. “Obviously my district is majority pro-choice, but we’re not talking about abortion in the first trimester; we’re talking about killing babies who are born or are one, two, three days before birth.”
Bell also says that he plans to get his message out to the people of his district with good old-fashioned door-knocking, reaching out to churches, and sending out mailers informing voters of his and his opponent’s position on the life issue “because people actually don’t know what’s going on” or the extent of Virginia’s current abortion laws, which allow for “abortion up until the moment of birth,” or that “Democrats are trying to make it available for any reason whatsoever.”
“Face-to-face contact is so big,” Bell adds while discussing door-knocking. “You can get a lot of mailers, but if you don’t see the person face to face, that’s extremely important.”
That’s also going to be quite a task, given that Bell says his campaign is currently a one-man show.
“Right now, it’s only me, so I am just doing this all myself,” Bell informs me. He adds with a smile, “How many nonprofits or campaigns can say 100 percent of their dollars go directly to the voter contact? I can say that.”
Bell, a lifelong Virginian except for the three years he spent teaching English and moonlighting in semi-professional basketball in Spain, said that when he first heard about the abortion bill, he was “shocked, horrified.”
“I couldn’t believe that my state would allow that,” he recalled. He also notes that, following the infanticide fiasco, “Virginia was called out as being an embarrassment to the whole nation,” which he says was a “huge part” of motivating his campaign. “I want to change Virginia from being a point of embarrassment and shame into something that people can be proud of,” Bell says. “And killing babies after they’re born or right before they’re born is not what I want Virginia to be known for.”
Nick Bell is the son of former Republican Senate candidate and Reagan administration official Jeffrey Bell, one of the key proponents behind supply-side “Reaganomics.” Nick himself has also worked in a Republican presidential administration, having previously served as a special assistant to the assistant secretary for policy at the Trump Labor Department.
But the young Republican also knows that he can’t run a successful campaign on a single issue alone; another big area where he plans to focus his messaging, he says, is on Northern Virginia’s tolls and traffic, especially for those who have to drive to Washington, D.C., or Maryland for work.
He says he wants to eliminate “all the toll lanes” on the area’s highways and “convert them to regular lanes so everyone can use it.” Now, he adds, people “can’t get back to their family because they see these huge lanes with no one on them and they’re stuck in this insane traffic.”
When he’s not trying to add a pro-life voice to the Old Dominion’s legislature, Bell says that he likes to blow off steam by playing basketball.”I love basketball,” Bell explains. “I love to get out there and shoot around outside in my neighborhood.” The multiple basketballs sitting in the back seat of his stick-shift four-door sedan out in the parking lot prove he isn’t kidding around about that.
Overall, despite the hard few months ahead of him, Bell says that he feels “super optimistic and energized” about his campaign.
Bell continues to say that a big part of his optimism at this stage is his view that “the Democrats are so apart from the people,” because he’s “never thought of another issue where the voting populace is farther from a certain political party” than on the issue of late-term abortion and infanticide.
“I think if you went outside and asked 100 people, ‘Do you support killing babies after they’re born?'” Bell concludes, “it would be 99.9 to one, no way.”