It’s not quite Halloween yet, but E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, today accused his Democratic rival, state Sen. Ralph S. Northam, of trying to make him out to be “some sort of monster.”
A new television ad, released by Northam’s campaign, highlights comments from Jackson’s book “Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life,” that allege birth defects are the consequence of sin. In the 30-second spot, Sarelle Holiday, mother of a disabled child, calls Jackson’s remarks “outrageous,” saying that her son is “a gift, not a punishment. Mr. Jackson is just wrong.”
Responding to the ad in an email sent to his supporters today, Jackson said he has ministered to those who have loved ones who are disabled. “I love people,” he said. “That kind of a personal tragedy is no one’s fault – and I have strived always to make peoples’ lives better and sustain their faith through troubled times.” Jackson called the ad “a lie,” “false,” and “a vicious smear,” and then asked for donations towards his financially troubled campaign because “it’s time to fight back!”
In his book, on page 101, Jackson wrote: “It is the principle of sin, rebellion against God and His truth which has brought about birth defects and other destructive natural occurrences.”
In a news conference in June, Jackson attempted to clarify these lines, stating he doesn’t believe that birth defects are caused by parents’ sin, “unless, of course, there’s a direct scientific connection between the parents’ behavior and the disabilities of the child,” he said, giving the example of birth defects that might result from a child born to a mother addicted to heroin.
Parents of disabled children in the Norfolk area responded to Jackson’s remarks with an open letter, calling them “offensive and disturbing” because they imply that “our children are somehow a punishment.”
Northam spokesman Grant Herring said Friday that the Democrat’s latest ad is “a window into the reckless ideology of Mr. Jackson using his own words from his book.” The ad gives voters the opportunity to learn about the Republican candidate and his agenda that is “harmful to so many Virginia families,” Herring said.
Northam’s ad is his third so far and the only one attacking his Republican opponent. Just ten days before the election, Jackson has yet to release a television spot. He still trails behind his rival in polls and in the money race.