RICHMOND, VA – In an interview this morning on News Channel 8’s “Good Morning Washington,” Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam again refused to condemn the despicable Latino Victory Fund ad that viciously attacked all Ed Gillespie supporters and any Virginians who disagree with the Lieutenant Governor.
ANCHOR: “There was an ad put out, I understand not by your campaign but by a group that is supporting you, and if we can just show a little bit of it. It does show a man driving in a pickup truck with a Confederate flag, essentially chasing down a child down the street. Your thoughts on this? Is this helping when it comes to mending the fences that have been broken within the Commonwealth?”
NORTHAM: … “This group that put out this ad – it was not from our campaign – I wouldn’t have put that ad out, but the ads that Mr. Gillespie has put out have provoked this hate and fear mongering, and so these individuals have responded, and they did it in a way that perhaps wasn’t what I would do, but it certainly provoked fear in them.” (Youtube, 11/1/17)
On a press conference call earlier this morning, leaders of the Virginia General Assembly criticized Northam’s lack of leadership for his unwillingness to denounce the ad run by a group he has coordinated his campaign efforts with and received thousands of dollars from.
“This is part of a pattern. The first part was the disgraceful mailing that he sent to Charlottesville, sent out concerning the events in Charlottesville that even the editorial page of the Daily Progress, again Charlottesville, called stomach turning,” said Senator Mark Obenshain. “He didn’t turn his back on that. He didn’t disavow that. He hasn’t disavowed this when given the opportunity to, and it’s pretty clear that national Democrats are pulling the strings of the Northam campaign, and he’s letting them. And I for one don’t want these people running Virginia. I used to have a lot more respect for Ralph Northam than I do right now. He’s not the same person who was originally elected to the Senate, and quite frankly, he ought to be ashamed of himself and the campaign that he’s run.”
Delegate Greg Habeeb added, “For me to see an ad funded by George Soros, these out of state folks to come into Virginia and to not attack Ed Gillespie, frankly, to not attack his policies, but to attack my voters, attack my constituents, the very ones who embraced Greg Habeeb to become Delegate Habeeb in Richmond – to see those out of state people with all their money to play to the basic fears of our minority and immigrant communities, and I understand and appreciate what they go through. I understand the fears they have, but to turn that not into a policy debate but an attack on my constituents has been very disappointing… I was frankly surprised when I saw the ad, I was sure this was a one-off ad from an out of state group. And when I looked up and saw that, not only is this a group that has been working with the Northam campaign, but had apparently given them tens of thousands of dollars, coordinated with them, promoted their campaigning together. I was stunned to find out that the Ralph Northam that I thought I knew would not just condone this type of behavior but collude in this type of behavior.”
When the ad was first released, Northam stood strongly behind it. His spokesperson justified the ad, saying, “Independent groups are denouncing Ed Gillespie because he has run the most divisive, fear mongering campaign in modern history.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 10/30/17).
Two Democratic Delegates, however, condemned the ad. Delegate Sam Rasoul said, “I would rather see groups use messages to inspire action, rather than fight fear with fear” (Richmond Times-Dispatch, 8/30/17). Delegate Jeff Bourne agreed with him (Twitter, 10/30/17).
According to The Daily Progress and The Washington Post, even after Democratic members of the House of Delegates and community leaders condemned the ad, Lieutenant Governor Northam continued to embrace it during two campaign events that took place on Monday night. On Tuesday night, The Washington Post reported that the ad was an attempt to “address concerns that Democratic candidate Ralph Northam is struggling to connect with minority voters” (The Washington Post, 10/31/17). Even after the tragic events in New York City, the Post reported no one on Northam’s campaign asked for the ad to come down.
Northam’s refusal to condemn the ad demonstrates his disdain for any Virginians who simply disagree with him on policy matters.