RICHMOND — For the first time, Emily’s List is targeting a sitting state lawmaker — and Virginia state Sen. Richard H. Black has earned the dubious honor.
The national political action committee is putting Black “on notice” for his opposition to Medicaid expansion, equal rights for women and access to abortion.
One of the most conservative members of the General Assembly, Black (R-Loudoun) faces a challenge in the fall from Democrat Jill McCabe, a pediatrician who was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia on Tuesday.
“Senator Black has made it clear that his top priority is to turn back the clock on women and families across Virginia,” said Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock. She added: “Dick Black is one of the worst when it comes to policies that are dangerous to the people he was elected to represent.”
Black, a former Marine combat pilot, took the slight in stride, noting that earlier this year, a magazine published by the Islamic State put him on its enemies list.
“I am the only state legislator who has also been targeted by ISIS as well,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I wear those as a badge of pride.”
Emily’s List backs female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights. The powerful political action committee zeroed in on Black’s seat as an opportunity to flip control of the Virginia Senate, where Republicans have a one-seat majority.
Last month, the group released a list of more than a dozen members of Congress that it would also work to fire, including U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), who last year won the seat long held by former Republican congressman Frank R. Wolf.
Black has a long history of controversial behavior, which continued last week when the Supreme Court affirmed gay couples’ right to marry in all 50 states.
“The gay community is quite militant. They’re not content to let people be and let people make their own decisions,” Black told NBC 4 in Washington. “It launches an attack on the Christian churches across the nation.”
Those words are part of a pattern of controversial actions and statements over the years.
In 2002, during debate on a bill to lift Virginia’s ban on prosecuting spousal rape, Black, then a member of the House of Delegates, said: “I do not know how on Earth you could validly get a conviction of a husband-wife rape where they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth, there is no injury, there’s no separation or anything.”
The next year, he made headlines when he sent tiny pink plastic models of a fetus to fellow legislators ahead of a vote on an abortion bill.
Schriock derided Black’s comments as “unacceptable and out-of-touch.”
But the criticism hasn’t made him think twice.
“I’m not a fan of Emily’s List. As you know, I am firmly pro-life, and I intend to remain that way regardless of Emily’s List’s position,” Black said.
What if the progressive group succeeded in changing his mind?
“Then,” he said, “you would probably know that the world had turned upside down.”