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Virginia House candidate condemned for tweet insulting speaker’s appearance

A Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates apologized Friday night after tweeting an insulting comment about the appearance of House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), which Democrats said relied on an antisemitic trope.

Republican Hahns Copeland is running to represent the Norfolk-based 89th District, which leans strongly Democratic. On Friday afternoon, he tweeted: “I was surprised to see a pair of eyes and a mouth with that NOSE” in response to a tweet by House Democrats that featured a video of Filler-Corn, who is Jewish, talking about a child-care subsidy program.

Copeland’s tweet was soon deleted, but screenshots of it lingered, and Democrats said it was an antisemitic attack on Filler-Corn.

Copeland apologized in another tweet to his roughly 120 followers late Friday, calling the earlier tweet “immature and impulsive.”

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“It was never intended to be anti-Semitic or reference her ethnicity or religion,” Copeland’s tweet said, but he conceded his earlier tweet was “inappropriate and insensitive.”

“I apologize to anyone I may have offended,” Copeland said in an email Friday night to The Washington Post. “My comment is not an accurate reflection of the totality of my character or the beliefs and values of me and my family.”

Filler-Corn’s staff said Friday she had not heard directly from Copeland.

“These types of hateful comments are unfortunately far too common today, and they are too often invoked instead of solutions to the real issues Virginians face,” Filler-Corn said in a statement. “I hope this candidate and his supporters choose to do what is right and acknowledge that words from those in office or seeking it have an impact, whether they say them directly or from behind a screen.”

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Copeland faces Democratic incumbent Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones in November’s election. Copeland raised just over $16,000 in July and August, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, compared with slightly over $25,000 for Jones.

Democrats noted Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin’s Virginia Wins PAC had contributed $3,000 to Copeland’s campaign, and called on Youngkin to condemn the tweet.

Staffers for Youngkin’s campaign did not respond to messages Friday.

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