Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam could be having one of the worst weeks in politics. Questions relating to an ad from a third party and now a liberal group abandoning him altogether after he said he would sign a bill that would ban sanctuary cities. Guy has more on that flip-flop; Northam, who is the lieutenant governor of the state, who boasted about being the deciding vote in the state Senate that blocked banning sanctuary cities. The Virginia Democrat surely isn’t acting like he’s in the lead. In fact, the attacks on Republican Ed Gillespie in the past few days have reeked of desperation. There must be something in the internal polling that has him and his people spooked because this has become a campaign that seems to be going off the hinges. First, Democracy for Action, the progressive group that called Northam’s campaign “racist” after the sanctuary city position reversal (via McClatchy):
A liberal activist group on Thursday labeled Ralph Northam’s campaign "racist," criticizing the Virginia Democrat running for governor a day after he declared that he would not support "sanctuary cities" for undocumented immigrants.
"Let's be really clear: If Ralph Northam wins next Tuesday, it won't be because he publicly backtracked on his commitment to protecting immigrant families, but in spite of it," said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, a grassroots progressive activist based in Vermont.
Chamberlain went on to say the Northam campaign was running "the same old, broken, and racist playbook that lost Democrats over 1000 elected offices since 2008."
In an interview, a DFA spokesman defended the group’s criticism of Northam’s campaign, saying Democrats face both a moral and political imperative to stand up to President Donald Trump.
"In an era where you have a bigot running the federal government, and someone like Jeff Sessions in charge of the Justice Department, you cannot stand up to racism and hate if you’re not, at every opportunity, standing up for struggling immigrants being threatened by the federal government," said Neil Sroka, DFA spokesman.
Sroka declined to say if his group would call any Democratic candidate who opposed sanctuary cities a "racist." DFA’s job, he said, is "not to run around labeling people racist willy nilly."
"Given how important and essential black and brown communities are to Democrats, isn’t it important to be a candidate who stands with those communities unequivocally when they’re under threat?" Sroka asked. "That should be the question to any candidate running for office."
He added: "Until we fully absorb that the strength of this party is in black and brown and progressive white voters … we are going to have a very difficult time winning elections."
In its statement, DFA also announced it had ended its assistance to Northam’s campaign.
We can debate how much this matters. But seems Northam isn't so much stumbling across finish line as doing an epic belly flop— Alex Roarty (@Alex_Roarty) November 3, 2017
Also, I've written about how Democrats and liberal groups have (surprisingly) gotten along well this year. This suggests ... otherwise— Alex Roarty (@Alex_Roarty) November 3, 2017
Yeah, that last part about DFA not wanting to be a group that labels people racist “willy nilly” is just classic since it’s becoming the Left’s favorite pastime. Alex Roarty, who wrote the piece for McClatchy, also added that this crack up undercuts the whole notion that progressive groups and the Democratic establishment were working together on a united front this cycle. That’s apparently not the case. If anything, it shows that the Democratic Party’s civil war has only just begun.
Circular firing squad along Dems in VA 5 days before election https://t.co/hQ7BO8y1rd— Trip Gabriel (@tripgabriel) November 3, 2017
While Northam deals with this attack on the Left flank, he’s fighting everyone else for an outrageous ad from the Latino Victory Fund that shows a Gillespie supporter running down Asian, black, Hispanic, and Muslim children, as if to say—if the GOP wins next week—this is what Virginia—and the America—will become. The whole ad is insane; all white people own pickup trucks, which is what’s featured, love the Confederacy, and just cannot wait to run over nonwhite children because…racism. It demonizes the voters, not the candidate. It explicitly states that the GOP is bad, and that you’re a bad person for supporting them. That’s a fantastic way to energize the GOP base and forever close the door on the Democrats reaching out to white rural voters, which they need to start winning back in order to be successful in future election cycles. While non-college white turnout dips in these elections, this LVF ad was definitely seen by folks in the rural counties. And while they didn’t have much of a motivation to vote this year, they might have one now.
And run the score up in western VA. Like I said earlier, I think the race still favors Northam. But, that's how Gillespie wins if he does.— Brandon Finnigan (@B_M_Finnigan) November 3, 2017
So, IF, IF Gillespie wins, he'll do it without winning Henrico or Prince William. He'll do well in exurbs, at least carry VAB & Chesterfield— Brandon Finnigan (@B_M_Finnigan) November 3, 2017
Absolutely saw that ad and took it personally. Non-college whites see a drop in voting from Pres to off-year, just gave many a reason.— Brandon Finnigan (@B_M_Finnigan) November 3, 2017
Moreover, the ad looks like it was a coordinated effort between the LVF and the Northam camp, who denied the media spot being part of the campaign proper. Well, election forms show that LVF earmarked over $60,000 for this ad as an in-kind contribution for Northam, meaning that the lieutenant governor had to have signed off on the ad. The Virginia press—even The Washington Post editorial board, which endorsed Northam—condemned the ad. As this race comes to a close, Virginia Democrats’ argument is that the GOP is evil. Seriously, folks—that’s your closing argument.
Northam faces attacks from the press, his own base, and the Republicans in the final days of this campaign. He appears to have been caught in a lie about the LVF ad, liberal groups are saying goodbye after sanctuary city flip flop, and the press has found his conduct in the last days of this race rather appalling. Phil Kerpin of American Commitments delved into this development with the ad, said that he feels Northam wanted an over-the-top and outrageous ad to attack his opponent; this move with LVF could give him some cover. The Northam campaign offered a weak sauce explanation for the in-kind contribution, saying that LVF does a lot of stuff with canvassing and voter data collection. Yet, the filing says this was for media. Fox 5 reported on this last night, pouring more gas on the Northam bonfire.
TOM FITZGERALD: Well good evening, you know the Northam campaign has been loud in denouncing this ad and saying they had nothing to do with it, but it turns out now, a political watchdog group has uncovered finance records filed with the Virginia election board that shows a financial connection between the Northam campaign and the Latino Victory Fund. Here it is. This is the filing that was made on the Virginia site. It lists Northam for Governor - Latino Victory Fund for “media,” in the amount of $62,000. Now why is this important? Well, Phil Kerpen, who runs the American Commitment Program, which uncovered this, says it raises a lot of questions about whether or not the Northam campaign has been fully at risk to talk about what they know about this ad. He says this is an indication that there is a financial link between the Latino Victory Fund and the Northam campaign.
PHIL KERPEN: Well it’s pretty remarkable, because at the same time Ralph Northam was going out on TV saying I would never have run this ad, I had nothing to do with it, his campaign was filing an official legal document with the State Board of Elections indicating that the ad constituted an in-kind contribution to his campaign, which means by law that it was a coordinated communication. It was not an independent expenditure.
TOM FITZGERALD: Now we should tell you that Fox 5 again reached out to the Northam campaign about this. They wouldn’t make Ralph Northam or anyone else in the campaign available to us today to talk about this. They did respond to some questions from email today. They said they did not authorize this ad. They say they did not see it before it went viral. However, what about these filings? Well the campaign explains that groups which work in kind with the campaign for things like door to door canvassing or data have to make these kinds of filings; however, you talk to the group American Commitment, that first uncovered this, and they’ll say that explanation just doesn’t hold water. The reasoning is right there on the filing. It says media. It does not say data or canvassing.
PHIL KERPEN: I think it just shows the remarkable level of mendacity. I think what happened here is Ralph Northam wanted to have a totally over-the-top, outrageous attack on his opponent, but he wanted to be able to deny it after the fact.
TOM FITZGERALD: Well as you know, Fox 5 spoke with Ed Gillespie about this ad this week. He said it was despicable and makes his supporters look like murderers and racists. Ralph Northam himself will be in Northern Virginia tonight. He’s got a scheduled event later tonight in Alexandria, Virginia.
If he does pull this out—and it’s possible—it will be one of the most bloodied and ugly wins the Democrats clinched.