In a few hours, the polls will open in Virginia. Democratic candidate Ralph Northam, the lieutenant governor of the state, is in a tight race with Republican Ed Gillespie. This shouldn’t have been a big issue for Democrats. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is popular. It’s the only southern state that Hillary Clinton won. It’s trending bluish—and Donald Trump is not popular here. And yet, here we are—one of the most critical races of the year, though some Virginia voters probably don’t even know that tomorrow is Election Day.
The Real Clear Politics polling average had Northam up on Gillespie by six points, which dropped to two points over the weekend, according to The Washington Post. Also, nonwhite voters in the voter-rich Northern Virginia have lobbed some criticism at Northam, mainly that he’s been very low energy in their neck of the woods, an area he has to over perform to win this off-year election. Maybe that’s why the Northam campaign and the Latino Victory Fund (possibly) teamed up to release this absurd ad showing a Gillespie supporter in a pickup truck running down Hispanic, Asian, black, and Muslim kids. The message is clear: Republicans are bad—and all white people are genocidal racists.
The ad attacked the voters, not the candidate. And if there were any low-key GOP voters in rural Virginia who might have passed on voting this year—they have a good reason to show up and stick it to Democrats. There’s also a mailer from the Northam camp that tries to link Gillespie to white nationalists. These aren’t the moves of a campaign that’s confident of victory. They’re scaring nonwhite voters to the polls. As for the LVF ad, well, it looks like the Northam campaign and the liberal group coordinated on this effort, as indicated in the latter’s disclosure form which shows a $60,000+ in-kind media contribution. Northam said this ad didn't come from his campaign; he only signed off on it. Another possible fib was discovered over by Streiff at RedState, who says that Northam may have exaggerated his military record.
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
At a January event in Richmond, Northam had this to say about smart gun technology. The video and transcript are featured on his campaign website:
“As a veteran, I served during Desert Storm and I took care of wounded soldiers who were on the receiving end of assault weapons. I know what assault weapons do to human beings. I want to tell you all something, and I hope it’s something you will stand up for. We do not need assault weapons on the streets in our state.”
Streiff also cited The New York Times on how gun control—at the time—was becoming a hot issue. Hence, why the GOP retaining the legislature is key; it stops any new gun control push in its tracks. Unsurprisingly, you could probably figure out where Northam lands on the issue [emphasis mine]:
Mr. Northam, a doctor and Army veteran, attended a candlelight vigil Monday night for the Las Vegas victims where he described caring for wounded soldiers in Desert Storm.
“I know all too well what assault weapons do to human beings,” he said. “And until I don’t have another breath in my lungs, I will stand up and tell people that we do not need assault weapons on our streets.”
Mr. Northam also called for universal background checks for gun buyers and for restoring a one-gun-a-month law repealed by Republicans.
Yet, through a FOIA request, we have found where Northam served as an Army doctor. As Streiff,who is also an Army veteran, noted, Northam was a child neurologist at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Here is where he breaks it down and calls into question the past remarks of Northam concerning seeing the wounds from these so-called weapons of war [emphasis mine]:
Here we see that Northam was a pediatric neurologist at Landstuhl Army hospital. While Landstuhl has had a major role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, during Desert Storm the wounded were evacuated to 7th Medical Command evacuation hospitals located near Frankfurt/Main in Germany. From there the severely wounded were further evacuated to the United States. There were just over 450 men and women wounded in action in Desert Storm. A quarter of those came from one incident: the SCUD strike on a barracks. Very few US soldiers suffered small arms wounds because Desert Storm was not that kind of war. The odds, however, of a pediatric neurologist stationed in a completely different command–the evac hospitals are commanded separately from the community hospitals–having had a life-changing experience by treating small arms wounds approach zero.
If Northam isn’t going full-metal Richard Blumenthal here, he needs to provide a helluva lot more evidence because right now his claims look as fake as his campaign.
The question is whether this revelation will make a difference, or even be fleshed out. Right now, both campaigns are greasing up their GOTV operations, double checking who has poll watcher certificates, making sure there are enough snacks and drinks for the volunteers, making sure the drivers who will make the rounds to the polling locations are good to go, and triple checking the volunteer list for other duties. It’s possible this could slip under the radar. Yet, it shows that this could be another instance in which Ralph wasn’t being upfront with voters. The only difference is that this had been going on for months.