Home A project of States Newsroom
News
Senate District 31 race: Republican Juan Pablo Segura vs. Democrat Russet Perry

Share

Senate District 31 race: Republican Juan Pablo Segura vs. Democrat Russet Perry

Oct 19, 2023 | 12:03 am ET
By Nathaniel Cline
Share
Senate District 31 race: Republican Juan Pablo Segura vs. Democrat Russet Perry
Description
Republican Juan Pablo Segura and Democrat Russet Perry are competing for Virginia's Senate District 31. (Courtesy of Segura and Perry campaigns)

With all 140 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate up for election this November and an unusual amount of turnover due to redistricting and retirements, the Mercury is profiling some of the season’s most closely contested races. Are you interested in a particular race? Let us know at [email protected]

In Senate District 31, composed of parts of Loudoun and Fauquier counties, Republican Juan Pablo Segura is attacking Democrat Russet Perry as soft on crime while emphasizing parental rights. Meanwhile, Perry is focusing on abortion, portraying Segura as a threat to reproductive rights.

Both candidates in the closely contested race are newcomers to state politics. Perry is a former CIA officer and prosecutor with the Loudoun commonwealth’s attorney’s office, which she left in 2021. Segura is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Babyscripts, a digital maternal health care tech company.

The race, centered in a very purple district in Northern Virginia that includes the politically volatile Loudoun County, is considered highly competitive. It has also seen a flood of cash: As of Oct. 15, Segura’s campaign had raised approximately $2.8 million and Perry’s team had collected $3.3 million, according to the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project, which collects election data.  

Segura did not agree to an interview for this story, but his campaign sent a lengthy statement on why he is running.

Public safety

Segura in his campaign ads has attacked Perry as anti-police, pointing to her work in the office of Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, a progressive prosecutor who has faced sharp criticism from Republicans.

In particular, Segura, who said public safety should be a priority and law enforcement should be “fully funded,” has pointed to Biberaj’s decision to divert low-level misdemeanors and nonviolent charges to police for prosecution rather than involving the commonwealth’s attorney’s office. Biberaj defended the move as a necessary step to allow the office to focus on violent crimes.

Senate District 31 race: Republican Juan Pablo Segura vs. Democrat Russet Perry
(Supreme Court of Virginia)

“My opponent was one of her top lieutenants,” Segura told Fox 5 in an interview this September. “They’ve dropped cases, publicly said they are not going to prosecute hit-and-runs and other high-level misdemeanors, and so we have got to focus on the issues that make our community safe and that make everyone successful.”

Segura has also attacked Perry in television ads for having accepted endorsements from groups that he says have supported defunding the police. While his ads have not named any of those groups, the Republican State Leadership Committee has pointed in one release to endorsements of Perry by progressive news outlet Daily Kos and progressive organization NextGen PAC.

Perry, however, said she helped put murderers and sex offenders in jail during her time as a prosecutor. 

“Public safety is a complex topic that involves a lot of different things,” she told the Mercury.

As a prosecutor, she noted that she helped start mental health and drug court dockets in Loudoun County to offer services to those in need and help “alleviate issues in the criminal justice system.” Additionally, she said she has trained law enforcement in crisis intervention and red flag laws, a measure that allows the temporary confiscation of a person’s firearm if they are considered a risk to themselves and others.

Loudoun, she said, “is routinely rated one of the safest” counties in the state, “and I’m proud to have been a part of that.”

Abortion

Perry is focusing most of her messaging on upholding Virginia’s current abortion laws, while Segura has joined other Republicans in supporting Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 15-week restrictions.

Under Virginia’s current law, there are few restrictions on the procedure in the first and second trimesters. Abortions are also allowed in the third trimester if three doctors determine the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother. Youngkin’s proposal would forbid abortions after 15 weeks except in cases of rape, incest and a threat to the life of the mother.

“Like most voters in our commonwealth, I support the current law as it stands,” said Perry. “My opponent could be the deciding vote to ban abortions in Virginia, but I will be the vote to protect the right to choose.” 

Segura told NBC4 Washington that “we need to find compassionate consensus on the issue of abortion, and that’s why I’m supporting the governor’s plan.” In his interview with Fox 5, he characterized Perry’s views on abortion as “extreme.”

Perry has similarly portrayed Segura’s views as out of touch with those of Virginians, saying on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “my opponent doesn’t seem to understand what the voters of SD-31 want, including that these decisions are best left to a woman and her doctor.” 

In an interview with the Mercury, Perry accused Republicans of “putting forward bill after bill seeking to criminalize women and health care providers and put them in jail for decisions that I believe should be left to a woman and her doctor.”

Under the existing law, physicians who perform abortions outside of the allowed circumstances specified in statute are already subject to a Class 4 felony, which carries a penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Parental rights 

Segura is also hoping to see success by emphasizing parental rights, an issue that is widely seen as having helped Youngkin win the governor’s race in 2021. The issue has been especially controversial in Loudoun County, where two highly publicized assaults by a student captured national headlines in 2021.

“We have to rebuild trust in our schools,” Segura told NBC4. “You can’t give a child an aspirin without a parent’s permission, so how can we not have parents involved with all the other issues in our schools?”

This April, Segura filed a lawsuit against the Loudoun County School Board, claiming it had deliberately covered up the sexual assaults. The case was dismissed Monday after a circuit court judge ordered that the internal investigation report be unsealed last month.

Perry said she supports transparency in government issues and sees school safety as a priority.

Kids “deserve to go to school and be safe, and us as the adults in the room deserve for that to happen,” she said.

“I think it’s important for us as a society to have transparency and for folks to be able to see that report,” she said. “I think there were a lot of questions surrounding it and what was in it. It’s informative to folks about what happened, much like the attorney general’s report was, and how we can go about making sure that those events never unfold again.”