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Ed Gillespie’s Racist Campaign Tactics Take Center Stage

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Washington Post Editorial Board and Richmond Times-Dispatch Have Taken Notice

Richmond, VA –  Weeks after Charlottesville showed us the deadly consequences of racial incitement, Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia, has deliberately turned his campaign into an ugly, divisive and racist series of attack ads. Gillespie’s television and radio ads, as well as mailings from the Virginia Republican Party, have doubled-down on hateful and misleading rhetoric designed to inflame and divide the citizens of the state. Media around the state have taken notice of this shocking development.

This week, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, Gillespie and the Virginia Party are “a more direct approach to the racially charged issues”:

A new mailer approved by Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie features a photo of the Robert E. Lee statue on Richmond’s Monument Avenue and accuses Democrat Ralph S. Northam of wanting to “tear down history while making life easier for illegal immigrants.”

The political flier, paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia, swaps out Gillespie’s usual “For ALL Virginians” slogan for the lesser-used “For a safer, stronger Virginia.”

The new messaging is the latest sign of Gillespie and his party moving toward a more direct approach to the racially charged issues that carried anti-establishment firebrand Corey Stewart to a surprisingly strong finish in the GOP primary this year.

The Washington Post Ed Board blasted Gillespie and his campaign in an editorial titled, “Ed Gillespie wants Virginians to be very, very afraid”:

Ed Gillespie, the Republican running for governor in Virginia, wants voters in the commonwealth to be very afraid. His recent TV ads feature wailing police sirens; a hoodie-clad man clutching a baseball bat; and, in big letters, a Hispanic gang’s motto: “Kill. Rape. Control.” In one ad, a voice-over asks, “Who will keep your family safe?”

Set aside the fact that Virginia’s violent crime rate, as measured by the state police, is the third-lowest in the nation and plunged by more than a third in the decade ending in 2015. Mr. Gillespie’s wedge issue of the day is gang violence — specifically, violent Hispanic gangs such as MS-13 — to which he hopes to harness the xenophobic fervor that propelled Donald Trump to the White House.

In the case of his TV ads, Mr. Gillespie has twisted truth to suit his purpose, and pandered to nativists in the Republican base, by trying to link his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, to the MS-13 scourge. Mr. Northam’s sin, one of the Gillespie ads says, was to “cast the deciding vote in favor of sanctuary cities that let illegal immigrants who commit crimes back on the street.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

In the wake of the racial terror in Charlottesville, Gillespie has made the deliberate decision to emulate the hate-filled rhetoric of Donald Trump. Gillespie has chosen division and hate over unity and progress.

It’s no wonder Trump tweeted support for Gillespie and his racist lies. In 2017, just weeks after an innocent Virginian was killed by a white supremacist, race-baiting has become the cornerstone of the Gillespie campaign.

This is disqualifying. Instead of leading, Gillespie is dividing. We would have thought this is beneath a man who once championed comprehensive immigration reform. Evidently, lust for power and political ambitions are more important to Gillespie than helping the Commonwealth heal and move forward.

As a proud resident of the state, I urge my fellow Virginians to show up and vote against these Willie Horton-style tactics. We’ve seen what happens when bigotry gets rewarded at the national level. We simply cannot let it get rewarded in our state.

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

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