Comments from state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel that her Democratic opponent in the race for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, is not informed enough to “talk intelligently” sound more like 1957 than 2017, Virginia Democrats said Friday.
“I was dumbfounded and astounded to hear those words come out of her mouth,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Swecker said on a conference call for reporters with state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond.
Vogel, R-Fauquier, made her remarks during a debate with Fairfax on Thursday hosted by the Virginia Bar Association at the University of Richmond School of Law.
She was discussing a controversial bill she sponsored in 2012 to require women to have an ultrasound before an abortion.
“He brings this up every chance he gets because there are other issues that he could talk about, but I clearly think he is not informed enough on those issues to talk intelligently about them. I just have to put that out there,” Vogel said in the debate.
Vogel campaign spokesman Chris West said Friday: “All that we have to say is that Senator Vogel stands by her comments from last night.”
Swecker said: “For those of you that were there, like Senator McClellan was, or for those of you who watched the video, you could audibly hear the gasp in the room.”
“Justin is a former prosecutor with degrees from Duke and Columbia and to question his ability to quote ‘talk intelligently’ unquote is more like something from 1957 instead of 2017.”
Vogel later in the debate offered this:
“I questioned how informed he is. I have no doubt Justin Fairfax is very intelligent. In fact he’s an incredibly nice person. I enjoy actually being on the trail with him. But I will question how informed he is on many of these issues, and that is why I take the position that he has taken very extreme positions that are incredibly hard for him to defend.”
Swecker said she immediately got calls and texts.
“I can’t speak to what was inside of Jill Vogel’s head, but the optics of a white woman saying that a black man with extraordinary credentials — who last night spoke with substance and great command of the issues — those optics aren’t good. As we say in Highland County, if it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”
McClellan said Vogel still hasn’t explained why she filed the 2012 bill that she later pulled from consideration, a bill McClellan called “one of the most embarrassing pieces of legislation any legislator in Virginia has authored over the past 10 years.”
“When given an opportunity by debate moderator Bob Holsworth to explain why her transvaginal ultrasound bill wasn’t an unwarranted intrusion by government into the personal health care decisions of Virginia women, Jill instead went on the attack,” McClellan said.