A candidate seeking a spot in Virginia’s General Assembly is facing backlash from the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Democratic Party after a disrespectful social media comment he aimed at the Speaker of the House Friday.
“I was surprised to see a pair of eyes and a mouth with that NOSE,” tweeted Hahns Copeland, the Republican candidate for Norfolk’s 89 district in the House of Delegates, in response to a photo that featured a picture of Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, a Jewish woman and the most powerful Democrat in the Virginia House.
Hahns quickly deleted the tweet but the screenshots immediately made their way to social media. The backlash from Democrats was quick. “Anti-Semitic rhetoric has no place in our Commonwealth or the 89th District,” tweeted Jay Jones, the current delegate in the 89 district and Hans’ opponent.
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) released a statement Sunday denouncing the comment from Hahns. “At a time when antisemitism and division are already at record high levels, we cannot allow hatred to be fanned or for antisemitism to become a pawn in a political game,” they said in a statement. “We call on all candidates to refrain from using stereotypes and hate language in their campaigns and instead be part of our Commonwealth’s efforts to build a better Virginia that is inclusive of all its residents”
Copeland issued an apology for the comment Friday night with a tweet. “My comment regarding Eileen Filler-Corn earlier today was immature and impulsive. It was never intended to be anti-Semitic or reference her ethnicity or religion,” Copeland tweeted late Friday night. “I apologize to anyone I may have offended. It is not an accurate reflection of my character, beliefs and values.”
JCRC said in their statement that whether the Jewish insult was unintentional or not, it will “reinforce a longstanding antisemitic trope and degrading language toward women.”
Copeland told the Washington Post in an email that his comment was “not an accurate reflection of the totality of my character or the beliefs and values of me and my family.”
Jay Jones is the incumbent in the 89 district race after first being elected to the House in 2017. He had harsh words for Copeland in a statement that he provided to Virginia Scope Sunday. “My opponent’s derogatory comment toward the Speaker was vile, despicable, and inexcusable,” Jones said. “He has neither the temperament nor the compassion to represent the 89th District in Richmond.”
The district is heavily Democratic — Jones defeated his Libertarian opponent by 70 points in 2017 and then ran unopposed in 2019.
So far according to the Virginia Public Access Project, Jones has raised $303,052 compared to Copeland’s $31,203.
Early absentee voting began last Friday for the Nov. 2 election.
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