Sunday, September 24

The “blue” color is redefined by the Susanna Gibson scandal, which has sparked controversy among Va. Dems.

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In September, Susanna Gibson, the party’s hopeful candidate for a crucial House of Delegates seat in suburban Richmond, made some extra cash online by engaging in sexual activities with her lawyer-husband, John. However, this story was broken by the more somber Washington Post.

Democrats responded with a lack of confidence, worried about not only losing in contested districts in Henrico County that could restore their House majority, but also the possibility of incumbent Schuyler VanValkenburg being defeated to maintain control of the Virginia Senate.

Del. Don Scott, the minority leader and presumed Speaker of the House in the event that Democrats win the Senate, declined to confirm if the caucus is still backing Gibson, a nurse practitioner who has claimed she is being targeted by Republicans and will continue to run against David Owen, an elderly home builder.

Scott expressed his disappointment and surprise by texting back, referencing an anonymous Republican operative’s suggestion that the GOP would disregard their commitment to winning the majority.

The Gibson incident raised concerns about the thoroughness of candidate vetting, the porous line that separates public and private lives, and whether there are differences in standards for judging conduct and character between men and women.

The situation cautions the next generation of candidates to run for office against the damaging consequences of their past actions, according to Claire Guthrie Gastaaga, a Democrat and former chief deputy attorney general to Attorney General Mary Sue Terry.

In 1985, Terry was elected and re-elected four years later, but in 1993, he lost to Republican George Allen in a landslide. This defeat was marred by unfounded claims by prosecutors that the psychiatrist had sexual intercourse with minors before state authorities were investigating him for having an affair with formerly patient who had died by suicide.

The parties, candidates, and operatives were quiet in their response to the scandal, despite heated comments on social media by partisans and Republican disapproval from various leaders, including Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, who pledged funds and services to Gibson.

VanValkenburg, who is set to run alongside Gibson in a larger Senate district and could potentially generate momentum for Gibson, did not respond to requesting comment on whether the disaster would dampen enthusiasm for his campaign, which could harm the chances of defeating two-term Republican Siobhan Dunnavant in an electoral district with blue votes.

Over the weekend, Sen. Tim Kaine, who is running for a third term in the 2024 election with Gibson, arrived at the news event and informed his press secretary that he was not available for comment.

Owen, who was caught on tape stating that he is in favor of pro-life policies, had only a single statement made by him: “It’s clear that this will be incredibly difficult for Susanna and her family,” and Republicans are betting that the story will have fewer consequences for Gibson’S campaign than if Gibson had simply walked out on the floor as the candidate.

The Tale of Tape is unlikely to fade away in the near future, whether it’s an attempt at sex satire, an effort to undermine Gibson’S belief in abortion rights in a wealthy district where such issues are significant, or aimed at mitigating Democratic early voting that will start on September 22.

The Henrico prosecutor, Shannon Taylor, who is running for attorney general in 2025 and wants to re-elect, stated that she was aware of Gibson’s attempts to request a police investigation into whether the videos violated her privacy.

The distribution of nude or compromising photographs of an individual with the intention of intimidating or menacing them is punishable by Virginia’s revenge-porn law.

Scott declined to reveal whether Democrats had prior knowledge of Gibson’s online activities, which could have resulted in disqualification under Politics 101. The latest incident occurred in September 2022, 14 months before the election took place in new districts to determine control of the House and Senate.

Schapiro believes that Bobby Orrock, a former Republican legislator who played the piano, could still win over voters and continue his career as he has been elected to office.

On Tuesday, Gibson did not reply to a text message seeking comment.

Susan Platt, an experienced Democratic strategist who oversaw the 1994 re-election of U.S. Sen. Charles Robb after reports of his sexual relationship with a former beauty queen, stated that female candidates are given more weight than males when their personal behavior is under scrutiny.

According to Platt, men tend to view sexism in a more positive light.

The misogynistic behavior of former President Donald Trump, including his off-color statements about grabbing a woman’s genitals, his federal jury conviction for sexual assault and defamation of errant NIMBY authors, and his purported payments of secret funds to X-Men, is largely ignored by Republican voters.

Trump and others have a standard set by two different people, as Tucker Martin pointed out.

After two years as the Republican House Speaker in over a century, S. Vance Wilkins Jr. of Amherst County resigned in 2002 after publishing reports that revealed him paying $100,000 in an out-of-court settlement to he had made repeated undignified sexual advances last year.

Claudia Duck Tucker, Wilkins’ chief of staff, questioned whether Gibson is being judged differently as a woman than if she were viewed as an individual. She responded by saying that public opinion used to judge women more than men, and it’s gratifying.

The Gibson controversy, according to Larry Sabato, a political analyst at the University of Virginia who has written on campaign and government scandals, could be insignificant during the Trump era, as reported by Richmond TV station WWBT-12.

He stated that 20 years ago, this would have taken a candidate out of the picture. However, he now doubts its impact is significant.

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