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Virginia Democratic delegate slams Republican mailer as antisemitic

Mailer sent to homes across Fairfax and Prince William features the Democrat in shadows gazing at piles of gold coins. Korean-American GOP candidate denies bias.

FAIRFAX STATION, Va. — In one of the most fiercely contested Virginia delegates elections the Democrat, Dan Helmer, is blasting his Republican opponent accusing him of sending out a grossly antisemitic mailer.

Republican Harold Pyon says he's an immigrant from Korea who's experienced discrimination and has always fought against it.

"I was stunned to see my opponent using antisemitic tropes in a flier like this," said freshman delegate Helmer, almost shaking in rage at the mailer sent out by Pyon's campaign.

It features a shadowy picture of the Jewish Helmer gazing at piles of gold coins.

"I really wonder why then they decided to airbrush my nose or remove my military insignia from my vest that was not in line with my being a money-grubbing Jew," if not from sheer anti-Jewish bias Helmer asked.

Pyon's campaign declined to make the candidate available for an interview. Instead offering Mike Ginsberg, a Jewish member of the State GOP Central committee. The flier was paid for by the Virginia Republican party.

"I've seen the flier, and I don't see it as anti-Semitic at all," said Ginsberg. "I think it's a traditional hard-hitting political piece that raises real issues about the rising cost of living in Northern Virginia."

Critics say one of the oldest anti-Semitic stereotypes out there is as a Jewish guy with a big nose counting coins.

"I've known him for 20 years, personally," responded Ginsberg. "He's the last person, I think, who would be considered antisemitic."

Late Thursday, the Pyon campaign released a statement from him slamming an editorial in the Washington Post that criticized the mailer. 

“As an immigrant who came to the United States following the Korean War, and who wore the uniform of our United States Army caring for Vietnamese families seeking refuge from their country during the Vietnam War, I am appalled and deeply offended by The Washington Post Editorial Board's attack against me," Pyon wrote.

"When I immigrated to our country, I experienced discrimination first-hand on many occasions. I experience it today, still. I vowed to never treat others as I was, and I maintain that promise every day. How dare The Washington Post Editorial Board make these assertions when I have spent my entire life working to bring communities of all faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds together, and to stand against discrimination of any kind; especially against members of the Jewish community," he said.

Helmer is just as angry. 

"My grandmother came to this country after living in hiding, a survivor of the Nazi occupation, where they sought to eliminate my family and people like us because of our religion... To have someone bring hate to our community. Use images like this, seek to divide us, is not what we deserve as leadership of the House of Delegates," he said.

Early voting has already started. Election Day is November 2.


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