My favorite story of the day comes from Henrico County, Virginia where a candidate for the House of Delegates has run into a very modern controversy. Susanna Gibson, a Democrat and nurse practitioner, is running as a challenger for a toss-up open suburban Richmond seat against Republican home-builder David Owens. The incumbent, Sally Hudson, is seeking a promotion to the state Senate.
Gibson has already secured the Democratic Party’s nomination but now it has been revealed that she repeatedly appeared on the pornographic streaming site Chaturbate to perform live sex acts with her husband in return for tips. These videos have been viewed by reporters at the Washington Post.
Theirs is one of just a handful of contests in each chamber expected to determine control of the legislature and whether Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) can enact a conservative political agenda that includes banning abortion after 15 weeks, with some exceptions. The outcome on Election Day also could boost or dim Youngkin’s prospects as a potential last-minute candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.
It was amusing to scroll through some of the more than 600 comments this story generated at Political Wire. Many men and some women are upset with Gibson for showing poor judgment and throwing away a chance to win a very significant seat. She’s being compared to other Democrats who torpedoed their political careers with scandalous sexual behavior like former North Carolina Senator John Edwards and New York congressman Anthony Weiner. Many people, mostly women, responded to this comparison with outrage, as Gibson did something consensual with her husband which is very different from having an extramarital baby while your cancer-stricken wife is in treatment or sending pictures of your genitalia to a 15 year-old girl.
I got a chuckle out of the exchange below which seems to crystalize the key debate here.
My first reaction on reading about the story was that it was as likely to help Gibson win the seat as hurt her. Like it or not, she’s an attractive woman and plenty of people, rather than being repelled, will react with some prurient interest.
She didn’t commit any crimes even if the Washington Post somewhat hilariously chides her for violating Chaturbate’s prohibition against performing “specific [sex] acts for tips” which “may result in a ban from the Platform for all parties involved.”
Sure, some people will not want to be represented in Virginia’s House of Delegates by a woman who performs public sex acts for money, but I think a lot of people will be more inclined to agree with adult entertainment lawyer Corey Silverstein who said, “I think it’s fantastic you have someone running who has an open sex life. It’s actually very refreshing.”
I’m not an expert on the 57th District, so it’s hard for me to predict how this will play out there, and that’s really all that matters.
I do know that Gibson is endorsed by environmental groups and Emily’s List, and that she’s strongly pro-choice in a suburban district where that’s presumably a strong plus. She’s strongly for gun control, which is also a winning issue in most suburban districts.
As evidence for this, her opponent doesn’t list any of those issues as priorities on his campaign page, and instead focuses on crime, education, and inflation.
To me, those contrasting platforms will decide the outcome of the election more than Gibson’s public sex with her husband.
In fact, the battle over those issues and how they play in the suburbs will decide which party ultimately controls the two chambers of Virginia’s legislature.
If the Republicans win, abortion will be illegal in Virginia after 15 weeks and we’ll begin to see bans of books in schools and other anti-Woke legislation. Nothing will be done about climate change except to make it worse, and the same is probably true for mass shootings. If that’s what the people of Virginia want, that’s what they’ll get.
Maybe Gibson made that outcome modestly more likely by deciding to run for the seat and securing the nomination, but I’m not convinced of that. I won’t be surprised at all if she shrugs off this embarrassment and wins the seat.
Her lawyers say it’s against the law to disseminate the videos under a Virginia “revenge porn” law, and I really don’t have an opinion on that. I’ll let the courts figure it out.