Virginia Democrats say livestreamed sex distracts from election stakes

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More Virginia Democrats raised controversy over legislative candidate on Tuesday that was broadcast live performing sexual acts as a distraction from what is at stake in this fall's elections, without fully defending his campaign.

Neither the state party nor the House Democratic caucus have publicly called on Susanna Gibson to end her campaign after it was revealed last week that she had sex with her husband in live videos posted on a pornographic website. and asked viewers to pay them money in exchange for performing specific sexual acts.

But neither group has publicly stated how much support (financial or otherwise) Gibson can expect moving forward.

“Our focus is and always has been to flip the House and win back the majority. “MAGA Republicans continue to try to distract us as they work to implement their plan to ban abortion and roll back the rights and freedoms of all Virginians,” House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Amy Friedman said in a statement. to The Associated Press.

House Democratic Leader Don Scott said in a brief interview Tuesday: “The only thing I'm focused on is getting the majority back to make sure we protect women's reproductive freedom.”

Del. Dan Helmer, campaign chairman for House Democrats, said Monday that he was thinking of Gibson's family and emphasized that she is running against an opponent who supports additional restrictions on abortion.

All seats in the General Assembly, which is currently politically divided with the House of Delegates controlled by Republicans and the Senate controlled by Democrats, will be on the November ballot. Both sides see a possible path to full control, and the suburban Richmond headquarters, where Gibson, a nurse practitioner, competes with retired homebuilder David Owen, is seen as a critical battleground.

Virginia Democrats, including Gibson, have made protecting abortion access a top campaign priority. Many Republican candidates in competitive districts, including Owen, have coalesced around Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's proposal to ban abortion after 15 weeks, with certain exceptions. Most abortions occur before that limit, federal data show.

Virginia, an outlier in the South for its relatively permissive access, currently allows abortion during the first and second trimesters. The procedure can be performed during the third trimester only if multiple doctors certify that continuing the pregnancy is likely to “substantially and irremediably” affect the woman's physical or mental health or cause her death.

Gibson's campaign did not respond to an interview request or a detailed list of questions from the AP on Tuesday. Gibson previously denounced the release of the videos as a violation of the law and his privacy. She has given no indication of ending his campaign and said he will not be intimidated or silenced.

On Tuesday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported a comment of Gibson about prescription drug prices and his work in the health sector. She did not mention the controversy.

While the caucus and some of its leaders have weighed in, many other Virginia Democrats have declined to comment, insisted on anonymity to discuss their frustrations or deliberations on the matter, or have not responded to media questions. The state party also maintained its silence on Tuesday, with spokesman Liam Watson declining to comment.

Among elected officials, Democratic state Senator Louise Lucas has stood out for your early, clear and vocal support to Gibson.

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who previously endorsed Gibson, did not immediately respond to an emailed inquiry asking about a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that featured Spanberger and Gibson. and that seemed to have been eliminated.

Clean Virginia, an energy policy advocacy group that is a major donor of mostly Democratic candidates, “does not comment on this story,” spokesman Cassady Craighill said. Clean Virginia gave Gibson $175,000 in August, according to campaign finance records, which also show Gibson ended the last reporting period with more than $460,000 in cash on hand, about $220,000 more than Owen.

Citing what he called Gibson's "remarkable" fundraising, Bob Holsworth, a veteran political analyst, said he believes it is entirely possible that Democrats will "come back at the end" and help Gibson campaign and raise money.

“My big question is: Do you still have organizational volunteers who will generate enthusiasm and participation?” Holsworth said.

Most Republican elected officials have also stayed away from the issue, although the state party has has pronounced, qualifying Gibson's behavior as a disqualifier.

In a post on social media Days after the news broke, the Virginia Republican Party accused Democrats of “celebrating a candidate who works as a porn star” and added: “They are the party of moral decay.”

Aaron Evans, a spokesman for Owen's campaign, said Tuesday that Gibson's campaign was misrepresenting Owen's position on abortion.

“The Gibson campaign is spending thousands of dollars lying about David's commitment to defending choice during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy and his support for exceptions in cases of rape, incest and maternal health. The fact that they are lying about David reinforces that their common-sense, consensus-building position is resonating with voters for a victory in November,” Evans said in a written statement.

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