RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — As Democrats seek to gain control of the Virginia House of Delegates in Tuesday’s election, a key race hinges on a candidate whose campaign was upended by revelations she engaged in sex acts with her husband on a pornographic website.
Susanna Gibson is running against Republican businessman David Owen in one of the state’s most competitive districts after all 100 seats in the House of Delegates were redrawn to conform with the 2020 Census.
Many political scientists wrote off Gibson’s chances after The Washington Post reported in September about her participation in livestreamed sex, which included soliciting payments from viewers in exchange for specific acts.
But Gibson, a nurse practitioner, refused to withdraw from the race, and accused Republicans of dirty politics for exposing her conduct. She largely ignored the allegations and focused on abortion rights, which Democrats said could be in jeopardy if Republicans gain control of the Legislature. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is seeking a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger.
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Republicans sought to remind voters of Gibson’s videos. The Republican Party of Virginia sent mailers to voters that contained screenshots. The envelopes warned recipients that explicit materials were contained inside and that minors should not open the envelope.
Gibson answered the GOP attacks to some extent Monday in an op-ed piece she wrote for the left-leaning website Blue Virginia, labeling her GOP attackers as “politicians who feel they have a right to know what goes on in our private lives and the power to control what we do with our bodies.”
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The 57th District includes parts of Richmond’s western suburbs in Henrico and Goochland counties. The nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project rated it the third most competitive of Virginia’s 100 House of Delegates districts, with only a very slight lean toward Republicans, based on recent voting patterns. Virginia voters do not register by party.
Republicans currently carry a narrow majority in the House of Delegates, while Democrats hold a slight majority in the Senate. Youngkin has campaigned aggressively on behalf of Republicans in key districts, hoping that GOP control of the General Assembly will allow him to enact his legislative agenda.