Democrats in Virginia are hoping to take control of the House of Delegates on Tuesday night, and a key race in that quest involves a Democrat candidate who refused to drop out of the race after being involved in an online sex scandal.
Susanna Gibson, 40, 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 experts wrote off Gibson's campaign in September when a Washington Post report revealed that she had filmed online sex acts with her husband on a streaming service while she was a candidate and solicited "tips" from viewers to perform different sex acts.
Rather than drop out, Gibson stayed in the race and attacked Republicans who criticized her over the videos.
Gibson, a nurse practitioner and mother of two, told the Washington Post that the incident represents "an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family."
"It won’t intimidate me, and it won’t silence me," Gibson added. "My political opponents and their Republican allies have proven they’re willing to commit a sex crime to attack me and my family because there’s no line they won’t cross to silence women when they speak up."
Republicans have sought to remind voters of Gibson’s videos on the campaign trail. 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's 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. Gov. Glenn 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.
Associated Press contributed to this report.