Nicole Merlene accuses Senator Favola of Sexism

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Last night, the Democratic debate for the 31st Senate district in Northern Virginia ended in fireworks. The sitting Senator Favola in a reach at the debate brought up a Merlene staff member’s tweets from 6 years ago. (That staff member was a teenager at the time.)

Blue Virginia has video of the debacle. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

What I mean by “all hell breaking loose” was Sen. Favola bringing up, for some reason I don’t fully understand, the fact that Merlene’s campaign manager (Matt Royer), when he was 18 or 19 years old, put out some tweets which – as Royer himself has fully acknowledged – were (in his words) “honestly ignorant and stupid and I regret them wholeheartedly.” Royer also said, in a statement:

“I don’t feel those represent me as a person. I have grown and learned since that time that words matter and that they can hurt people. I realize that it’s not funny and that it shouldn’t be taken lightly. But I also know that in my heart, that’s not who I am. I have worked for and with many people of color and LGBTQ and fought for them for equality so I would never want to harm anyone. I know better and I will continue to do better. and honestly, I’m very sorry.”

That’s not it, Merlene just sent out a press release filling you in on what she believes were sexist comments from Favola towards Merlin. Check it out below.


Last night at the Arlington County Democratic Party debate for 31st state Senate district candidates, incumbent state Senator Barbara Favola used her closing remarks to level a wildly sexist and deeply offensive smear at her opponent. Referring to Nicole Merlene, a 26-year-old first time candidate for public office, Favola remarks: “I know there’s a new flavor that you can look at, maybe think about, maybe it’s tantalizing.” 

After sexually objectifying her opponent in front of a packed audience and thousands more online, Favola then claimed to champion the #MeToo movement. 


In response to being referred to as a “tantalizing” “new flavor that you can look at”, Nicole Merlene has issued the following statement: 


It’s a shame a sitting female lawmaker would take to using sexist dog-whistling comments. I, and women across the Commonwealth, are all too used to these types of comments. Moments such as this offer a stark reminder of how far our society must go in the way of treating women, especially young women, with the respect we deserve as powerful and intelligent individuals – not exploitable objects of sexual desire. We as women and as leaders should not have to put up with this any longer. Richmond culture needs a major change and I look forward to being that change. For now, I will continue to focus on the issues that got me into this race to begin with; ethics and campaign finance reform, transportation, infrastructure, affordable housing, and protecting our environment.”

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