Republican Juan Pablo Segura kicked off his campaign by attacking school equity efforts and using an antisemitic trope to attack progressive prosecutors.
Juan Pablo Segura, a wealthy Republican businessman, kicked off his campaign for a key Virginia state Senate seat on Saturday by attacking educational equity efforts; using an antisemitic trope to attack progressive prosecutors; and vowing to fight against the "woke agenda" of the political left. In the same speech, he presented himself as a uniter focused on "common sense."
All 40 seats in the Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate and all 100 seats in the Republican-run House of Delegates are up for election in November. With anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin set to serve until 2026, the Senate elections could determine whether he is able to roll back existing legal protections for those rights. The current 22-seat Democratic Senate majority has called itself the "brick wall" against his right-wing policy agenda.
Segura is running in Virginia's 31st Senate District, a newly redistricted Northern Virginia seat that includes portions of Loudoun and Fauquier counties. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, the district favored Youngkin by less than 1% in the 2021 gubernatorial election, but backed Democratic nominees in 2016, 2017, and 2018 state and national races. Much of the district is currently represented by retiring Republican state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, who endorsed Segura on Monday. The race will likely be a key 2023 battleground.
Segura, a software executive and the son of billionaire Enrique Segura, has made sizable donations to Virginia Republicans, including a $25,000 contribution to Youngkin's inaugural committee and $1,100 to anti-abortion state Senate candidate Kevin Adams, who lost a special election in January.
In his campaign announcement speech, Segura blasted Virginia Democrats as "the radical left," while calling for unity around his conservative ideas:
Just look at what's happened in the short three years that Democrats had control here in Virginia: ineptitude and blind ideology. And we can talk about a few examples: prolonged and unnecessary shutdowns that have almost broken our children's ability to learn; ignoring the voice of parents in our schools; maniacally imposing equity that ends up systematically oppressing minority students; and a George Soros-backed commonwealth's attorney that refuses to prosecute criminals. That's just not my opinion, by the way. She made it her official policy two weeks ago. So what am I going to do about it? I'm running to bring people together to solve real problems. No pushing agendas or grandstanding, just leadership focused on a common goal to work for the citizens of this great commonwealth. Clearly, there's no leadership in the woke agenda.
He mocked his political opponents for pushing "mandatory sensitivity training" and "virtue signaling."
The linguist Tony Thorne told the New Yorker recently that while the term "woke" was originally used to refer to awareness of issues facing society, especially relating to racial equality and social justice, in recent years, Republicans have used it as a catchall term in their efforts against voting rights, workplace diversity, LGBTQ equality, and efforts to curb police violence, to the point where, Thorne says, "it's an unusable word—although it is used all the time—because it doesn't actually mean anything."
Segura's reference to the commonwealth's attorney is a dig at Democratic Loudoun County prosecutor Buta Biberaj, who recently announced that her office would prioritize prosecuting violent and felony crimes over nonviolent misdemeanor cases. She received support in her 2019 campaign from the Justice and Public Safety super PAC, which supports reform candidates in prosecutor elections and has received significant funding from billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
Republicans have often used "Soros-backed" as an antisemitic trope in attacking candidates "THIS is how anti-Semitism takes root and spreads," tweeted American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten last August, after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) railed against "Soros-backed prosecutors."
In a joint statement, three Democratic senators who represent portions of Loudoun blasted Segura's announcement speech.
"This weekend Republican candidate Juan Pablo Segura announced his candidacy for state Senate and outlined a dark and divisive vision for the Commonwealth and for Loudoun County," Sens. John Bell, Jennifer Boysco, and Barbara Favola said. "Riddled with all too familiar attacks on our public schools and with intent on stoking a far-right culture war, it's clear that Segura is content using the same divisive politics as failed far-right candidates before him."
Russet Perry, a prosecutor and former CIA officer, and Leesburg Town Council member Zach Cummings are both seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.