Virginia Delegate Alex Askew Denounces 'Overtly Racist' GOP Attack Mailer, Demands Apology

Alex Askew, a Democratic member of the Virginia House of Delegates, accused his Republican challenger of using racist imagery in campaign attacks that depict him burning and hanging by ropes.

In a tweet on Saturday, Askew called out GOP candidate Karen Greenhalgh for sending out two separate attack mailers that show him in controversial positions.

"Karen -- last month, you sent an attack mailer that displayed a darkened, burning photo of my face. Now, your party is depicting me as bound & hanging by rope. YET AGAIN: These images rely on some of the laziest, most blatantly racist tropes about Black people in history," Askew tweeted Saturday. He shared an image of one mailer that shows him tightly bound and hanging, in the manner of a puppet on strings.

Karen -- last month, you sent an attack mailer that displayed a darkened, burning photo of my face. Now, your party is depicting me as bound & hanging by rope.

YET AGAIN: These images rely on some of the laziest, most blatantly racist tropes about Black people in history. https://t.co/3fCQT2HjuD pic.twitter.com/F32KnpMLBX

— Alex Askew (@AlexAskew757) October 2, 2021

Three weeks ago, Greenhalgh's team sent voters an image of Askew's face engulfed by flames. On Saturday, Askew also re-shared a tweet he wrote in September condemning that imagery.

"My opponent's attack mailer displayed a darkened, burning photo of my face. I'm a black man. Depicting any black person as burning or hanging propagates some of the most dangerous, racist tropes in history. This dog whistle attack has no place in our politics," he wrote.

My opponent’s attack mailer displayed a darkened, burning photo of my face.

I’m a black man. Depicting any black person as burning or hanging propagates some of the most dangerous, racist tropes in history. This dog whistle attack has no place in our politics. pic.twitter.com/BP53Qrl12M

— Alex Askew (@AlexAskew757) September 10, 2021

Askew, who represents Virginia Beach, continued on Twitter by stating that it is "clear" Greenhalgh lacks the ability to represent people of color and called on her to "immediately cease and denounce these deeply racist attacks."

In response, Greenhalgh on Saturday issued a statement saying that the most recent mailer was not issued or condoned by her campaign. A spokesperson for her team instead told Newsweek that the mailer was sent by the Republican Party of Virginia.

"Many in the 85th district received an offensive mailer today. Neither myself nor anyone on my campaign staff approved this mailer. I do not condone it's imagery. My campaign is about job creation, lower taxes, and safer neighborhoods. It's not about offensive mail pieces," Greenhalgh tweeted.

Many in the 85th district received an offensive mailer today. Neither myself nor anyone on my campaign staff approved this mailer. I do not condone it's imagery. My campaign is about job creation, lower taxes, and safer neighborhoods. It’s not about offensive mail pieces.

— Karen Greenhalgh (@KGreenhalgh85) October 2, 2021

Newsweek contacted the Republican Party of Virginia for additional comment.

The ongoing spat comes just one month ahead of the Virginia House of Delegates election, which could prove to be the first indication of how Republicans and Democrats will fare in next year's midterm elections.

Virginia Democrats currently hold 55 of the 100 seats up for election in November, and their ability to keep those spots could suggest national trends in the battle to control the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

Delegate elections "can certainly, at times, play the role of canary in the coal mine. And I think that's even more true now given how nationalized our elections at every level have become," Tucker Martin, who served as a top aide to former GOP Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, told The Hill last month. "If there are trends developing you'll see some of them in the results."

Askew told the news outlet earlier this month that Democrats have done "amazing" things to transform Virginia in the past two years, adding that "we cannot afford to go back to 20 years of Republican leadership."

Virginia House of Delegates Racism
Virginia House Delegate Alex Askew accused his Republican challenger on Saturday of using racist imagery against him in attack mailers. Here, the House of Delegates in action at the Virginia State Capitol on January 8, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Update 10/3/21 9:14 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from Karen Greenhalgh.