What They Are Saying: Ralph Northam’s Campaign Engulfed By Flier Scandal

Just weeks from Election Day, Virginia Democrat Ralph Northam’s struggling gubernatorial campaign finds itself engulfed in an embarrassing scandal.

The RGA writes: 

Just weeks from Election Day, Virginia Democrat Ralph Northam’s struggling gubernatorial campaign finds itself engulfed in an embarrassing scandal, seriously threatening Democrat unity. Since the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Northam’s campaign distributed fliers promoting the Democrat ticket that omitted his running mate Justin Fairfax, Northam has faced accusations of “subtle racism” from members of his own party. This comes as a slew of new public polls show Ed Gillespie surging as Northam “struggles to energize Democrats.” Here are some highlights of recent coverage:

The Washington Post reported that Fairfax called his being left off Northam’s fliers a “mistake,” while Collective PAC, a group that supports African-American candidates, blasted the Northam campaign’s decision, saying it “reeks of subtle racism,” a quote that was carried in the story’s original headline:

wapo headline

Here's more from the Post story

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Ralph Northam omitted any mention of Justin Fairfax, the party’s African American candidate for lieutenant governor, from about a thousand pieces of campaign literature, a move Fairfax called a ‘mistake’ and that has stoked tensions within the Democratic ticket and threatens to alienate African American voters three weeks before Election Day…

‘It reeks of subtle racism, if not a tone deafness about how were going to win in November,’ said Quentin James, the founder of Collective PAC that supports black candidates, including Fairfax. ‘Leaving Justin Fairfax off of mailers, even if it’s only for a small universe of union members, still sends the wrong message.’”

The President of the Loudoun County NAACP also blasted the move by Northam’s campaign, saying it “reinforces a perception that the Democratic Party sees [Fairfax] as an outsider and is also taking the black vote for granted:”

“Phillip Thompson, the president of the Loudoun County NAACP, said the exclusion of Fairfax from literature reinforces a perception that the Democratic Party sees him as an outsider and is also taking the black vote for granted.

‘A lot of us feel the Virginia Democratic Party has never been a very inclusive group, and they always kind of marginalize African Americans without providing any grounds for advancement,’ said Thompson. ‘Hillary (Clinton) won the state of Virginia because of the African American, Hispanic and minority vote…Justin is perfect person to help them do that again, and they still don’t suport him.’”

The Washington Free Beacon noted how Fairfax’s opposition to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Pipelines, both of which Northam and his union allies support, played a factor in his exclusion from campaign fliers:

The new version comes just weeks before the election in November. The campaign says the altered version was only for campaign material provided to the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The union confirmed it requested Fairfax’s removal, saying he ‘wasn’t supporting us on the issues.’

A liberal environmentalist, Fairfax opposes the construction of two natural gas pipelines through Virginia, the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Labor unions, Northam, and Herring support the pipelines.”

Northam’s newest struggles come at the worst possible time for his campaign as Gillespie surges in the polls, a development POLITICOattributed to his attacks on Northam’s record that have “have moved the needle:”

The Monmouth poll suggests Gillespie’s attacks — he has run television advertisements attacking Northam for what he says are the lieutenant governor’s lax policies on immigration and crime — have moved the needle. Asked which candidate they trust to handle crime, 40 percent of likely voters say Gillespie, compared to just 24 percent for Northam, a wider margin than last month.

To make matters worse, Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth said on CBS Richmond that recent polls shows “Republicans are coming home” for Gillespie while Northam “struggles to energize Democrats.” Holsworth also called Northam’s slide a “real wake-up call” for his party:

ANCHOR: “So, what has happened between the last poll and this recent poll? Because it seems that Ralph Northam has slipped.” BOB HOLSWORTH: “I think all the polls right now are showing a tightening race, and this one poll even shows Ed Gillespie with a slight lead. And I think that what has really happened is that Ed Gillespie has basically been able to solidify the Republican base. He’s been arguing about sanctuary cities, he’s been making arguments about keeping the statues, and I think the Republicans are coming home. At the same time Ralph Northam struggles to energize Democrats at the moment. He’s given a pretty good idea of who he is, his background as a physician, but he hasn’t really Bill, provided an affirmative reason for people to get out and vote for him or to get excited about campaigning for him, and that is a problem. And I think all of these polls have come out in the last couple of days are a real wake-up call for the democrats right now,

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