Right-Wing Death Threats Are Forcing A Virginia Lawmaker Into Hiding

With a January 20 gun rights rally looming, socialist Lee Carter is going to ground and the governor has declared a state of emergency

Aaron Gell
GEN
Published in
8 min readJan 15, 2020

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Photo: AFP Contributor/Getty Images

TThe Virginia General Assembly, which flipped from Republican to Democratic control in November, is expected to be in regular session on January 20. But at least one elected delegate, Lee Carter, who represents the town of Manassas, will take the day off — and not just to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Having become the subject of a heated conspiracy theory swirling around pending gun-control legislation, he plans to spend the day in a safe house, “someplace where the address was never published,” he emphasizes.

“To maximize my chance of survival, I may have to miss some votes,” he says. “I’m not interested in becoming a martyr.”

The south’s only socialist legislator, whose election in 2017 presaged the “blue wave” that swept leftists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into power the following year, is no stranger to political combat. Carter has aggressively criticized both the GOP and his erstwhile Democratic colleagues, whom he largely views as ineffectual, misguided, and in thrall to corporate interests. He is a sharp presence on Twitter, often punching back at anonymous accounts other elected officials might simply ignore. And he once posted a thread listing “things you can expect to be used against me,” a catalog of missteps, from offensive social media comments to lost jobs, troubled marriages, and dick pics — a self-inflicted oppo dump.

The south’s only socialist legislator, whose election in 2017 presaged the “blue wave” that swept leftists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into power the following year, is no stranger to political combat.

In other words, Carter is not one to back away from a fight. But this time is different. In recent weeks, the red-haired lawmaker and part-time Lyft driver has been the subject of a torrent of violent threats, several of which he has shared with Capitol Police, who took them seriously enough to forward them to…

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Aaron Gell
GEN
Writer for

Medium editor-at-large, with bylines in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times and numerous other publications. ¶ aarongell.com