The challenger to a Goochland County lawmaker who was present at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol but said he did not go in the building says his presence there alone is grounds for voters to replace him in office.
Blakely Lockhart of Henrico County is the Democratic challenger to Del. John McGuire, R-Goochland, who has served in the House since 2018.
She said the race became more personal when she learned that he was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, the day a violent mob charged through police barricades, attacked officers and entered the building in an attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election.
“The person who’s supposed to represent our community threatened our democracy on Jan. 6, and he unfortunately continues to threaten it by peddling the same lies that led to the insurrection,” said Lockhart, who lives in Henrico County and graduated from Christopher Newport University in December 2020 with a degree in neuroscience.
The Washington Post reported July 27 that McGuire attended the rally outside the Capitol. McGuire declined to be interviewed for this story.
McGuire posted a statement on Facebook July 30 that said voters “are nervous their votes are not counted in a free and fair way. And they’re scared the far-left Democrats in D.C. and in Richmond are threatening their very way of life.”
He wrote that he was among thousands of law-abiding citizens practicing their First Amendment rights on Jan. 6.
“When I arrived home and saw the news, I was just as shocked and horrified as everyone else to see that people had entered the Capitol,” McGuire wrote in the post.
It’s unclear exactly where he was in proximity to the Capitol.
“We know that the elections were probably one of the most secure that we’ve ever had,” Lockhart said. “So when you have somebody at that high of level of office sharing this and making people question whether their vote matters, whether it will be counted correctly, etc., it works against what our democracy is founded on, which is that you should be voting, you should be civically engaged.
“While he may not have gone inside, he still participated … there was a noose hanging at this event on the lawn. That wasn’t inside, but that was still inciting violence.”
She said she hopes even Republicans will want what she termed a more moderate voice for House District 56, which covers Louisa and parts of Goochland, Henrico and Spotsylvania counties.
“I think that’s where we’re struggling a lot as a country right now and as a state, is we are not coming together to really have these open, honest conversations. So I am willing to do that, and I’m trying to.”
Nine people who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 died during or after the rioting, including four law enforcement officers who subsequently took their own lives. More than 560 people have been charged with federal crimes so far, The Associated Press reported.