A new ad released by Ed Gillespie’s (R) gubernatorial campaign attacks Democratic candidate Ralph Northam for supporting something that doesn’t exist.
The ad hits Northam, who currently serves as lieutenant governor, for “casting the deciding vote in favor of sanctuary cities that let illegal immigrants who commit crimes back on the streets.” A narrator goes on to claim that Gillespie “will ban sanctuary cities and get tough on illegal immigration.”
There’s just one problem — there aren’t any sanctuary cities in Virginia. The vote the ad refers to was a symbolic one taken by the Virginia Assembly in February in which Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment (R) voted against legislation he actually supported, thereby forcing Northam to cast a tie-breaking vote against a sanctuary cities ban. Even had it passed, however, nothing would have changed in Virginia.
Gillespie’s misleading attack ad comes as his campaign abruptly moves in a Trump-like direction. On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that Gillespie hired Jack Morgan, who worked as a Virginia field director on the Trump campaign, to serve in a similar role.
Morgan “has warned that the country is on the brink of civil war and that communists are behind the effort to take down Confederate statues,” the Post reported. “And when he was stumping for [Prince William County Supervisor Corey] Stewart during the primary, Morgan blasted Gillespie as a Washington lobbyist in speeches.”
Earlier this year, Morgan was employed by the campaign of Stewart, who narrowly lost to Gillespie in a primary election. Stewart made national headlines during his campaign for his passionate defense of Confederate monuments and Virginia’s slave-owning “heritage.”
Gillespie previously said he thinks the question of whether Confederate monuments should be removed is best left to local governments, and has denounced white supremacists. But in the wake of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, the New Jersey native distributed a fundraising email blast claiming he’s “remained firm in opposing the removal of historical statues across our Commonwealth.” That fundraising pitch came on the heels of the Republican Party of Virginia accusing Northam of turning “his back on his own family’s heritage” by supporting the removal of Confederate monuments from public properties in the state.
And despite the fact that he’s now attacking Northam for allegedly being too soft on immigration, Gillespie’s own position hasn’t been consistent. As the Washington Post detailed earlier this year, Gillespie’s lobbying firm “earned more than $1 million helping Tyson Foods with matters including ‘amnesty proposals’ and criminal charges related to illegal-immigrant employees.” In 2013, Gillespie supported an immigration reform bill that would’ve provided 12 million undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship.
But with Northam solidly ahead in the polls, Gillespie is betting that he needs to become more Trump-like in order to win in November’s general election. On Thursday, his campaign even distributed an email fundraising blast attacking the Washington Post. As Trump has done, the email specifically attacks the paper’s owner, Jeff Bezos.
Interesting… Ed Gillespie goes to war w/ the Washington Post, which he says "is not a local newspaper" — even though it serves NoVa. pic.twitter.com/OMkXV4BsvQ
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) August 31, 2017
CLARIFICATION (9/01/17): While Virginia does not technically have any sanctuary cities, some areas of the state do have sanctuary city-like policies protecting immigrants from deportation.