During the 2017 gubernatorial contest, then-lieutenant governor Ralph Northam cast his opponent, Republican Ed Gillespie, and the Virginians who supported him as bigots intent on implementing policies reflective of their hatred of racial minorities.
Northam — whose medical-school yearbook page, it was revealed Friday, features a photo of one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan uniform — attempted to convince the electorate of Gillespie’s evil intentions in countless television, digital, and postal advertisements.
Citing Gillespie’s opposition to sanctuary-city policies, Northam and his allies explicitly labeled his opponent’s policies “racist” on numerous occasions.
VA is an inclusive and diverse community—we won't put up with Ed Gillespie's racist rhetoric and fearmongering. https://t.co/WjEnUPBkXS
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) October 11, 2017
State senator Barbara Favola followed the Northam campaign’s lead on messaging, calling Gillespie and his supporters “evil” during a community meeting in Arlington, Va., in November.
“What my colleagues didn’t really tell you is how dangerous it will be if the other side wins. They’re evil, we’re the good guys,” Favola said. “Every one of you is an angel.”
The accusations of racism escalated after Gillespie’s campaign ran an ad highlighting the danger posed by the MS-13 street gang, which is active in Virginia and is largely comprised of legal and illegal Central American immigrants.
The ad, which accuses Northam of being “weak on MS-13,” was broadly condemned by high-profile Democrats, including Barack Obama, who said it was as “cynical as politics gets.”
In response to Gillespie’s ad, Northam’s campaign partnered with the Latino Victor Fund SuperPAC to release an ad depicting a man driving a pick up truck adorned with a “Gillespie for governor” bumper sticker, and a Gadsden-flag license plate, attempting to run down a group of terrified minority children.
Northam also faced accusations of racism during the campaign after it was revealed that his team removed a photo of his black running mate from campaign material mailed to a predominantly white area.
Throughout his career, Northam has emphasized his ties to the African American community, frequently addressing Virginia’s legislative black caucus and other African American groups.
At the VA Legislative Black Caucus reception- thank you for all you do and let's have a great Session! pic.twitter.com/7tfyA5z1QP
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) January 12, 2016
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) June 4, 2016
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) February 1, 2017