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Democrats call Virginia state senator sexist for doctor/mother tweet

Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun). (Bob Brown/Associated Press)

Virginia state Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) is under fire from Democrats for a tweet in which he compared his opponent’s career unfavorably with his own.

Black’s tweet was a response to his opponent, Jill McCabe (D), labeling him a career politician. The tweet included an image that listed accomplishments by both candidates. On one side, Black listed his accomplishments: senator, delegate, accountant, juris doctor, Marine major, Army colonel, home builder, herpetologist, factory manager, career prosecutor, construction engineer, pilot and flight instructor, library board member, father of three and grandfather of 14.

On the other side, he listed McCabe’s: doctor and mother. The difference was “experience,” he tweeted.

McCabe, a pediatric surgeon, called the tweet “out of touch and callous” as well as “belittling the value of working mothers.”

Facing his first re­election campaign in his Loudoun-based state Senate district this fall, Black has come under repeated attacks by Democrats for previous comments on abortion and rape.

Del. Kathleen Murphy (D), who represents part of Loudoun, mocked Black for touting himself as a herpetologist, which is someone who studies reptiles and amphibians.

“Dick Black thinks being a ‘reptile enthusiast’ is a more legitimate qualification than being a mother and a doctor? Seriously?” she said.

The criticism levied against Black echoes that of a successful line of counterattacks employed by a fellow Loudoun politician last year: Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) won a seat in Congress after repeatedly attacking her opponent as sexist for saying she never had a "real job."

Black’s campaign created the initial image in response to an ad McCabe is running in the district in which her kids tout her as a mom and a doctor.

“She’s not a politician, and in Richmond, she’ll work for us,” the ad says.

McCabe “is calling him a career politician, so he was listing what he’s done,” said Black campaign staffer Michelle Staton, who is his daughter. “She’s the one that listed that she’s a doctor and a mother.”

Black later deleted his tweet. Staton said it was pulled not because of the content but because Black was pictured in a military uniform without a required disclaimer that he is not endorsed by the Defense Department.

Black did not immediately return a request for comment.

Black has a history of courting controversy. He once questioned whether a husband commits rape if he forces his wife to have sex. He sent plastic pink models of fetuses to lawmakers as they prepared to vote on an abortion bill, and he has compared abortion to the Holocaust.

Yet the conservative Republican won his seat easily in 2011 despite the heavy focus by Democrats on his colorful record. He has outraised McCabe by more than $200,000. His district has consistently supported Republicans, except for E.W. Jackson, a 2013 candidate for lieutenant governor who narrowly lost there.

Republicans said they are confident that Black will be returning to the Senate next year.