Virginia's 6th Congressional District GOP candidates respond to smear campaign allegations
Cynthia Dunbar, a GOP candidate to replace Congressman Bob Goodlatte who represents Virginia's 6th Congressional District in Congress, addressed what she is calling a "smear campaign" against her.
In a press conference today, Dunbar said she feels as though she is being attacked by other campaigns.
Dunbar said lies are being spread about aspects of her life such as her relationship and her past employment status. Although she said she wanted to ignore the comments, she said felt she needed to address specific comments to set the record straight.
"These are unfounded accusations that are being hurled at me for one reason and one reason only, that I am winning and they are losing gridlock control," said Dunbar.
According to Dunbar, several calls have also been made to potential voters in an effort to suppress voter turnout and turn voters against her. A representative for Dunbar's campaign said an investigation into the calls connected them to a representative of Chaz Haywood's campaign.
"We have not made any smear tactics or comments toward the Dunbar campaign at all, our focus has always been on talking about the issues that we're concerned about," said Chris Godbey, Haywood's campaign manager.
Godbey said the Haywood campaign hopes to keep the voting process as fair as possible.
When asked for comment on the situation, candidate Ed Justo said "Mrs. Dunbar has called me, Ed Justo, a flamboyant gay, a communist, a socialist, a dubious lawyer, claimed I was disbarred and a democrat plant. She has called Mrs. Lewis and Mr. Desjadon false candidates, and “dumb” socialists. Yet none, not even me, have called a press conference on the matter even though absolutely ALL comments are ABSOLUTELY FALSE."
When questioned about the comments mentioned by Justo, Dunbar denied having said anything negative in regards to other campaigns.
"If Mrs. Dunbar needs a press conference to whine about negative commentaries from others, she is obviously unfit for the position she seeks," continued Justo.
Candidate Mike Desjadon said he did not know enough about the allegations to comment but that he hopes the race can remained focused on the issues.
"I don't know Cynthia well so can't specifically comment other than attacks on her (or anyone else's) family and personal life are pretty tasteless in my book," said Desjadon. "It's too bad this is what we're talking about instead of the issues people in the district are facing like the absurd cost of healthcare, a government addicted to spending, the opioid crisis and threats to civil liberty. "
Candidate Doug Wright said he has played no part in smear campaign against Dunbar and would instead like to challenge Dunbar to a debate to talk about their campaign platforms.
"I am certainly not actively working against Mrs. Dunbar. Efforts to smear a candidate is a great tool for a small-time politician. I have and will obey Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: 'Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican.' I believe we can elevate the conversation if we all were to act as statesmen for the betterment of Virginia instead of petty pols hustling for an election win," said Wright. "To elevate the conversation in this congressional campaign, I challenge Mrs. Dunbar to a debate. I think a Dunbar-Wright debate would give our voters much to think about."
Candidate Elliot Pope said he was disappointed in the negativity within the race and will not contribute to it.
"As a political outsider and businessman, I have been disappointed by the petty negativity within the GOP race. I stand by Reagan’s 11th commandment not to speak ill of a fellow Republican," said Pope.
In an interview with WHSV on Thursday night, candidate Delegate Ben Cline said: "Well, I'm running a positive campaign based on the issues and my record in the General Assembly, working for the people of the sixth district, so that's where my focus is on and I'm looking forward to a great campaign."
We reached out candidate Kathryn Lewis for comments on the matter but did not hear back.