The polls are all over the place, but Virginia’s gubernatorial race could be close—and Republican candidate Ed Gillespie could win. That’s why national Democrats are getting jittery. Case in point, this rather insane attack linking Ed Gillespie to white supremacy and neo-Nazis by the Ralph Northam campaign. As some have noted, this is not something that you push out if you’re ahead in this race. I think it’s not off the mark to suggest that something spooked the Democrats in the internal polling. The mailer issued by Northam, the Democrat, tries to tie Gillespie to the horrific Charlottesville protest in August, where neo-Nazis and other white supremacists were demonstrating to voice their opposition to the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. One woman was killed and scores of other were injured when a car driven by a white nationalist plowed through a group of counter-protesters. Yes, the violent left wing Antifa thugs were there as well, though they didn't kill anybody that day. At the same time, just because they fight neo-Nazis doesn't make them the good guys; the Department of Homeland Security classified their actions as acts of domestic terrorism last year.
Concerning the reaction from the local press, Virginia's top newspapers have commented that what Northam has pushed out with this mailer is pretty much libelous, while others noted that Gillespie's statement on the Charlottesville protest not only showed that the Republican candidate did all the right things, but that he and Northam are on the same side of this issue.
This is not a piece you would send out if you were cruising to victory. pic.twitter.com/uaDmmqZFhn— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) October 25, 2017
On Friday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board torched the Northam campaign for the mailer that suggested Gillespie is somehow a supporter of white supremacy:
They [the Democrats] have distributed a mailer of their own, seeking to tie Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie to the white nationalists who rampaged through Charlottesville in August.
That isn’t merely a reach. It’s practically libel.
Gillespie has repeatedly and passionately condemned white supremacists and other creatures that have crawled out from under the alt-right rock. Linking him to them requires the following absurd logic: (1) Donald Trump said some stupid things about Charlottesville. (2) Trump is a Republican. (3) Gillespie is a Republican. (4) Therefore, Gillespie supports racial hate.
That makes no more sense than this: (1) Some Democrats have defended the violent street thugs of antifa. (2) Ralph Northam is a Democrat. (3) Therefore, Ralph Northam supports violent street thuggery.
The Roanoke Times’ board said:
In the aftermath of Charlottesville, almost every Virginia politician of note — Republican Senate hopeful Corey Stewart excepted — said exactly what you would think they’d say: White supremacy is an evil that must be condemned in the harshest terms.
Gillespie’s strongly-worded response stands in marked contrast to that of President Trump, who dithered for three days before he could manage to read those words — and then later backtracked to blame “both sides.” When a Republican president finds it difficult to call Nazis marching in the street a bad thing, that would seem to hurt all Republicans everywhere. Gillespie hasn’t called out Trump — as Democrats want him to do — but he has certainly condemned the marchers at every opportunity. In one statement, Gillespie called them “a torch-carrying, shield-bearing white supremacist and neo-Nazi mob” that “essentially invaded Virginia.”
Gillespie — indeed, all Republicans — are in a bind as far as Trump is concerned, but otherwise Gillespie himself has said and done exactly the right things here. Vote against Gillespie because of his views on tax policy, if you want, but don’t vote against him because of anything related to Charlottesville. He and Northam are on the same side here.
Again, we’ll have to wait and see what happens on November 7.
UPDATE: Also, the Richmond Times-Dispatch decided to endorse Gillespie for governor, while also dispelling certain things that Democrats have said about his economic agenda [emphasis mine]
Republican Ed Gillespie has run an energetic, inclusive, moderate-conservative, solutions-oriented campaign. His detailed, in-depth proposals reflect a refreshing respect for the intelligence of the voters.
Gillespie revives the pragmatic, open-minded Republican Party that for so long served Virginia well by emphasizing effective government that focuses on core responsibilities while limiting regulation and keeping taxes as low as possible. In an era of screamers, Gillespie speaks in calm tones about shared goals and specific policies to address both recent declines and longstanding problems. He offers multitudes of incremental progress rather than misleading promises of pure utopias. He is a realistic conservative who understands the gradual changes in Virginia — and is able to appreciate and protect the improvements while recognizing the problems, which are frequently spurred by creeping blue-state calls for bigger and more intrusive government.
His campaign has focused on helping boost economic growth and job creation. Its centerpiece is a highly responsible and straightforward plan to cut every Virginian’s state income tax by 10 percent. Despite hysterical claims to the contrary, Gillespie’s tax reforms will let workers keep more in their wallets, while protecting the commonwealth’s ability to meet its fundamental responsibilities, with a comfortable margin of error. He knows, unlike most Democrats, that more government spending is not the cure for all that ails society.
Perhaps most important, Gillespie knows that while Virginia remains a prosperous, dynamic dominion, it also faces strong competition — for jobs, businesses, students — from nearby states, especially those to the south. Virginia’s natural assets, enviable workforce, and outstanding universities have long provided competitive superiority. But those advantages can be forfeited if the commonwealth’s regulatory regime, budget discipline, and entrepreneurial appeal are allowed to decay. Gillespie talks often and persuasively about the unbreakable link between economic growth and social progress. As governor, he will deliver on Virginia’s potential. He has earned our confident endorsement.