A flyer sent to Virginia residents ahead of the primary election Tuesday lists reasons why, according to one Republican state senator, voters should pick him and not a rival with a "liberal voting record in Richmond."
The first reason: She "voted to approve the first openly gay judge in Virginia and [sic] only Republican to vote for special rights for gays and transgenders."
Fellow Republicans say the candidate for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Bryce Reeves, is using anti-gay bigotry to try to sway voters from longtime rival State Sen. Jill Vogel.
In 2013, Vogel voted with the majority to confirm decorated Naval aviator Tracy Thorne-Begland as a Richmond judge. Reeves abstained.
Reeves' campaign defended the flyers.
"My criticism of Ms. Vogel is that she voted to put a liberal on the court," a statement from his campaign said.
Vogel's campaign chairman defended her vote for Thorne-Begland, citing his "exceptional qualifications" and said Vogel believes "discrimination is wrong."
Republican Brian Schoeneman edits the conservative website Bearing Drift. He said the flyers from the Reeves campaign were wrong because it came across as "a straight-up attack on a judge because he happened to be gay."
State Sen. Adam Ebbin, a Democrat, was the first openly gay lawmaker in the General Assembly and said Reeves' actions were "wrong."
"He was wrong to have not voted on that nomination, and he's wrong to call out his fellow Republican on it and especially to scapegoat and use bigotry to do it in the waning days of the campaign," he said.
Glenn Davis, a Republican who also is seeking to be Virginia's lieutenant governor, also criticized the Reeves campaign for sending the flyers.
"It's stuff like this that turns people off to politics, turns people off to serving in office, and, honestly, turns a lot of Republicans off," he said in a Facebook video.
This is not the first bad blood between Reeves and Vogel. Earlier this year, Reeves filed a civil lawsuit accusing the Vogel campaign of spreading false rumors about him. That case will not be resolved until after the primary.