As Mitt Romney said during one of the 2012 presidential debates, politics isn’t beanbag. It is a contact sport that took a hideous turn towards outright character assassination during the 2016 presidential campaign and has not since abated.
While some of the campaign commercials aired during the special elections for congressional seats have been brutal, they do not even compare to the ugliness on display in the gubernatorial race in Virginia, where voters will decide next Tuesday between two classic establishment candidates, Republican Ed Gillespie, former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Democrat Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam.
A spot aired in recent days by a leftist PAC, Latino Victory Fund, entitled “American Nightmare,” depicted a white guy with a confederate flag, a “Don’t Tread on Me” license plate and “Gillespie for Governor” bumper sticker on his pickup truck stalking a neighborhood filled with minority children. As the driver approaches, the kids scatter in fear, yelling “run, run, run” before the young child wakes up from his nightmare. The ad concludes with the narrator saying in ominous tones, “Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by the ‘American Dream?’” You can see it here:
How ironic it was, then, that Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York City which killed eight people and injured 11 others was pulled off with a pickup truck similar to the one in that ad. Only the driver was not a white supremacist, but a radical Uzbek Muslim who, upon completing his murderous rampage, shouted “Allahu Akbar.” That incident prompted the Latino Victory Fund to pull their commercial off the air. But the stench of one of the most despicable political ads in recent years remains. And it may well backfire, motivating Republicans previously uninspired by Gillespie’s establishment background to show up at the voting booths on Election Day.
Northam, who has served for the last four years under Governor and longtime Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe, was not directly responsible for the commercial, but he refused to condemn it. And that is perhaps unsurprising, given that the gloves came off of both sides earlier in the race when Gillespie paid for ads which connected Northam to MS-13 gang violence and even to a child pornographer.
Virginia was won decisively by Hillary Clinton, and If you still believe the pollsters, most of whom were dead wrong about the 2016 elections, Northam has the advantage. But the poll results are all over the proverbial map, with Northam leading by 17 points in one recent poll, and Gillespie leading by eight points in another.
Given that neither candidate has inspired the citizenry of the Old Dominion, it is unclear whether this race will carry any deeper meaning than how much more or less purple the previously red state of Virginia has become. But one thing is clear: even though neither candidate with their establishment resumes has energized the voters, both have demonstrated a clear willingness to employ the scorched earth tactics of the most radical wings of their own parties to try and stagger across the finish line.
Stay with Liberty Nation as we keep you abreast of developments and analyze the results in the Virginia gubernatorial race.