Audio: “The lady (Siobhan Dunnavant) doth protest too much, methinks”

Audio: “The lady (Siobhan Dunnavant) doth protest too much, methinks”


This is fascinating: Siobhan Dunnavant, running for the Republican nomination for Virginia State Senate in the 12th district, completely contradicts the accounts of three Democrats — Senator Dick Saslaw, Senator Donald McEachin and another unnamed Democrat – she met with. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dunnavant met with the Democrats “toward the end of the 2015 legislative session,” and “what was shared…is that she was for Medicaid expansion.” In addition, as John Fredericks reports in this interview:

1. Dick Saslaw said Dunnavant’s brother called him (Saslaw) “to set a meeting up with the Democratic caucus because, he said, you were exploring running for State Senate and were exploring the potential for being the Democratic nominee, and he said that was the genesis, that was the catalyst of the meeting.” (Dunnavant’s response: “I don’t know what happened between Ken [Stolle] and Dick…”)

2. All three Democrats who met with Dunnavant said that Dunnavant didn’t follow up with them, but Dunnavant said she DID follow up with them and told them she was running as a Republican. According to Dunnavant, “I have no explanation for why they said that, I spoke directly with Sen. Saslaw, and I called Sen. McEachin and within a few minutes he returned my call and we spoke…thanked them…I don’t know why they don’t remember that, I’m sure it was a busy time for them.“)

Dunnavant goes on to spin a convoluted conspiracy theory, about how “now when my campaign is surging, all of a sudden this is coming up and being presented as an issue.” She continues, asking “why is a powerful Democratic Senator getting involved in a Republican primary, except that I’m the best candidate and he doesn’t want me to get the nomination?”

3. All three Democratic Senators say that Dunnavant told them she favored Sen. John Watkins’ “Marketplace Virginia” Medicaid expansion compromise. Dunnavant says “I don’t remember us talking about Marketplace Virginia at all...I can’t answer for them…I can only tell you that I have a longstanding record of discussing these issues…and there are many people that will be happy to tell you my position, which is consistent with the position I’ve stated today, including the fact that I was invited to serve on a coalition for Marketplace Virginia to advocate for it and I refused.”  Again, Dunnavant implies a conspiracy theory, saying she’s running her campaign, getting great feedback, and says the story is about a “courtesy meeting” she had with Democrats “when you’ve got McEachin and Janis collaborating to undermine my campaign…and we’re not talking about that.” She asks, “why isn’t that the story?”

Of course, as John Fredericks follows up, why would Dunnavant even be setting a meeting up with Minority Leader Dick Saslaw at all, “why would you even be…making phone calls, having your brother make phone calls, or even be meeting with him at a hotel, when you’re thinking about running on the other side, what would be the objective of that?” Yet again, Dunnavant says it was all “courtesy,” that “of course” she’d meet with the Minority Leader, that Fredericks’ “premise is flawed.” Hmmmm.

Dunnavant adds that at the time of the meeting with the three Democrats, she was still in the process of pondering whether or not she might want to run for State Senate, in fact at the time “was pretty sure I wasn’t running and I believe I told them that too.” But, as Fredericks states, “they’re telling me, ON THE RECORD, that during the meeting you were exploring how you would go about being their nominee, how the process would work, talking about committee assignments and things like that.” Her response: “oh my god…no.”

Finally, Fredericks asks (somewhat incredulously), “why wouldn’t [the Democrats] be in favor of you winning” (“maybe you’d actually work with them”), given her position on Medicaid expansion, “certainly better than some of the more conservative people in there,” then what’s the “incentive [the Democrats] they have to put this out there now.”  This is where Dunnavant really lays it on thick and “protests too much”:

Right, so that’s curious that you don’t see the incentive…because I see the incentive, the incentive is they don’t want me to be the nominee. And you’re exactly right, it doesn’t add up. Why would somebody who was a College Republican, who has been a pro-life OBGYN, who has advocated for conservative principles and Republican candidates ever run as a Democrat?…The only thing that makes sense…is that this is a courtesy meeting on my part for a family friend that has been misconstrued and has some political advantage for the Democrats if it is interpreted in the way they are presenting.

So, Fredericks asks, is she saying that Senators Saslaw and McEachin are lying? “No,” she says. Huh?

Let me just add one other thing that doesn’t make sense: this district is a rock-solid “red” district that was easily one by Ed Gillespie, Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Obenshain, Mitt Romney, George Allen and Bob McDonnell. Why, why, WHY on earth would Democrats want the more “moderate” Republican in the race to lose, let alone go through all these convoluted shenanigans and supposed conspiracies to try to make that happen? I’m baffled. Any theories, other than that Dunnavant is simply protesting too much, methinks?

  • Dan Sullivan

    when he approached them back in the day. But the Virginia Beach Democrats who make this claim demonstrate marginal veracity. There is certainly a lot more to this story. With Saslaw involved you can bet there is a convoluted tactic somewhere and some strange twisting strategic blunder.

    Bye-bye any hope of a Democratic majority in the Senate.