Sat, 08 Aug 2020

A cyclist who was fired after flipping the bird - making a rude single-fingered gesture - to US President Donald Trump's motorcade has been elected to local office in Virginia.

Juli Briskman, whose one-handed salute was captured in an AFP photograph that went viral, beat the Republican incumbent to a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in state elections that saw Trump's Republican party suffer a series of stinging defeats.

The single mother of two teens lost her job as a marketing analyst for a US government and military subcontractor after the snapshot of her gesture spread across media and the internet in 2017, bringing her insults and threats.

But getting fired also opened "a lot of doors", the 52-year-old said during her campaign, including accepting an invitation to run for local office on the Democratic ticket.

That decision paid off on Tuesday night, as Briskman celebrated her victory in a tweet that linked to a copy of the image.

"Looking forward to representing my friends & neighbors in #Algonkian District who backed me up today! So proud that we were able to #FlipLoudpun," she wrote.

Republican losses

With 52% of the vote after 99% of precincts had reported, the result saw Republican Suzanne Volpe beaten into second place.

When fighting her campaign in Loudoun County - the wealthiest in the US - Briskman didn't bring up the image that sparked her 15 minutes of fame unless homeowners started "talking about the administration" or commented on her bicycle pin.

Instead, the ultramarathon runner told AFP she wanted to show that there was "substance" behind her candidacy - education, women's rights, transportation and environmental issues - and that she wasn't "just the person that rode my bike one day and flipped off the president".

Her success comes as Trump's party also lost control of both chambers of the legislature in increasingly blue Virginia, US media including The New York Times projected.

Democrats will now hold all major state-wide offices and rule the state assembly, a comprehensive consolidation of power not seen in the state since the 1990s.

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