Bigoted mailer backfires as desperate GOP tries to salvage thirteen-term lawmaker's campaign


Virginia delegate Bob Marshall has run a bigoted campaign against his opponent, Danica Roem. But the move seems to have backfired, and Republicans are scrambling for emergency funds to save his campaign.

Virginia Republican State Delegate Bob Marshall has run a disgustingly bigoted campaign, bankrolled by the state Republican Party, against Danica Roem, his Democratic challenger.

Now, Republicans in Virginia are sending him emergency cash infusions to try to prop up his failing candidacy.

Marshall, who has a long history of championing the religious right's agenda, has decided to go into the gutter and attack Roem, a transgender woman.

The Washington Post reports that political action committees associated with Virginia Republicans have put together an emergency fund, cobbling together at least $75,000 to help Marshall hold on to the seat he has held for 26 years. The sudden scramble "suggests the state party is worried about losing the seat," the Post notes.

Marshall released a mailer — paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia — that referred to Roem as a man, such as quoting her by citing "his words." Incidentally, the same party is behind gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie's anti-Latino ad campaign.

Roem is unbowed by the attacks, telling the local NBC affiliate, "When Delegate Marshall realized he cannot win on public policy issues, on traffic, jobs, schools and health care, he resorted to trash."

He wouldn't defend his hateful smear with the station, though as reporter Julie Carey noted, he was quite happy to go on their air in the past.

Marshall also refused to debate Roem, claiming her supporters would — accurately — call him a bigot. He has also banned reporters from traveling with him on the campaign trail.

Instead, he emulated the strategy of other Republicans (like Donald Trump) who cannot defend their ideas with legitimate journalists, and spoke in a venue where he would not be challenged.

Marshall appeared on the radio show of religious right broadcaster Sandy Rios, stating that he would refuse to "call a man a woman" when referring to Roem because he "never flunked biology" and keenly understands the "laws of nature."

The repugnant comments are in line with Marshall's history of bigotry: He once pushed for rejecting a judge because he was gay, he believes that homosexual behavior "undermines the American economy," and he pushed for legislation banning gay servicemembers from serving in Virginia's National Guard.

He also said that disabled children were God's "vengeance" for abortion.

Roem has championed programs that would teach children about gender identity and treating fellow citizens as equals. That is a bridge too far for Marshall, who complained that "it is not a civil right to masquerade your fantasies as reality."

Responding to the backlash to his bigotry, Marshall sought comfort from Rios, whining to her that "Standing up to this is somewhat difficult because you get called all kinds of names."

If Roem wins, she would be the first openly transgender candidate to serve in a state legislature. After winning the primary within the Democratic Party, Roem told reporters that she was running to focus on local Virginia issues, and contrasted her approach with Marshall.

In Virginia's legislature, Marshall drafted and pushed a so-called "bathroom bill," which would enshrine discrimination in Virginia and regulate which gender could use the bathroom. Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he would veto the legislation, but it was so over the top, Virginia Republicans scuttled it.

Marshall complained that his fellow Republicans were "disgusting" for dropping his bill.

What is disgusting is bigotry and callous attacks on an opponent's identity when you cannot win on policy grounds. And like so many conservatives, Marshall has completely embraced such strategies in his failing effort to keep his seat.