With less than a month until the June 13th Republican Primary, State Senator Siobhan Dunnavant has withdrawn her endorsement of fellow Senator Bryce Reeves in his run for Lieutenant Governor.
Published late Friday night on Facebook, Senator Dunnavant explained how she came to that conclusion:
Several weeks ago, the Reeves campaign for LG released an online ad featuring me and five other Republican members of the General Assembly — all female legislators. I had significant concerns about the message of the ad. Concerns about my endorsement, my name and my reputation being used in this way without my consent. My endorsement of Senator Reeves was intended as a positive affirmation of my belief that he would make a good Lieutenant Governor.
Running for office is extremely challenging, and I admire the fortitude it takes and the individuals who make the sacrifice. As Republicans, even as we compete for your votes, I believe we should stay focused on issues when campaigning, not identity politics and certainly not gender.
To his credit, when I called Senator Reeves to voice my concerns he said it was not his intention to offend me or any other woman. He apologized for not checking with me in advance and said that he would take down the ad. Later that week, I addressed this issue in front of the Henrico County Republican Committee at our monthly meeting with Senator Reeves present. I thanked him for pulling the ad and stated again that I wanted no part of such politics or message.
Disappointingly, the ad was posted online again yesterday, and I have received numerous inquiries about it once again. I object to the ad for several reasons.
It identifies a group of supporters based on gender and implies that this was part of a gender based issue agenda. We as Republicans should always reject “identity politics” and instead express a positive conservative vision for all Virginians.
In referencing Senator Vogel in the singular as his only opponent, this ad is also disrespectful of Delegate Glenn Davis who is running a spirited campaign for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor.
The ad singles out by reference Senator Vogel and directly implies that all of the other Republican women in the General Assembly are not supporting her on the basis of gender or some other unspoken issue. This is simply not the case.
I have high esteem and a great relationship with Senator Vogel and Delegate Glenn Davis.
I believe the message of the Republican Party is resounding and persuasive and that identity politics based on any demographic undermines our principles and dignity. I do not want to be associated with any message that could be perceived in that way and am therefore withdrawing my endorsement of Senator Reeves and have informed him so. With my withdrawal I hope to silence this ad as well as any negative reflection on either of the other candidates for Lieutenant Governor.
I wish all of the candidates the best with their campaigns, and like so many Virginia Republicans, I am anxious to support the nominee after June 13th.
Whether it shakes up the race remains to be seen.
Cross-posted at Bearing Drift