A Democratic Virginia candidate who livestreamed having sex with her husband and asked viewers on the porn website to pay money to see them perform specific sex acts is narrowly trailing the Republican challenger in a race that still remains too close to call, according to The Associated Press’ projection.
News outlets first reported about nurse practitioner and married mother of two Susanna Gibson’s actions on the porn website in September, but she still stayed in the race.
She won a Democratic primary in June to run against GOP businessman David Owen in one of the most competitive districts in Virginia after all 100 seats in the House of Delegates were redrawn to conform with the 2020 Census. The Virginia legislative contests are largely being viewed as a 2024 bellwether ahead of next year’s presidential election year.
As of early Wednesday, Owen held a narrow lead over Gibson in the district located outside the state capital of Richmond, but the margin left the race too early to call, the AP reports.
The race had been billed as one of several that could determine control in the House of Delegates. But even if Owen hangs on to win, Republicans statewide lost control of the House of Delegates. The AP projected that Democrats would win at least 51 of the 100 seats in the chamber.
When it was first reported that Gibson and her husband solicited money to perform sex acts on the porn website, the Democratic candidate deemed the exposure “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.” Insisting she would not be intimidated or silenced, Gibson alleged, “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.”
Gibson refused to remove herself from the race and largely ignored the allegations, focusing instead on abortion rights, which Democrats claimed could be in jeopardy if Republicans gain control of the legislature. GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin is seeking to ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.
Democrats also maintained their narrow margin in the state Senate after Tuesday’s election. Those legislative victories will allow Democrats to block Youngkin’s policy agenda, though they will have to work with him to advance their own.
Before Tuesday’s election, the Republican Party of Virginia sent mailers to voters that contained screenshots of the pornographic videos of Gibson and her husband. 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 for the left-leaning website Blue Virginia, labeling Republicans 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.”
Her attorney has previously argued that disseminating the videos was is a violation of Virginia’s revenge porn law.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Scroll down to leave a comment: