The Washington Post’s editorial board on Friday issued a scathing criticism of Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie’s latest attack ads, calling them “incendiary” and “misleading.”
The TV ads from Gillespie, who has been endorsed by President Trump, blast his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, for his automatic rights-restoration policy for felons.
“The ad targeting his Democratic opponent in next month’s election,” the editorial reads, “is in keeping with the recent thrust of Mr. Gillespie’s campaign, which, taking a page from the Trump playbook, has been more about scaring and dividing Virginians than inspiring and uniting them.”
The ad focuses on a particular individual, John Bowen, who, after serving a short prison term in 2001, regained his rights to vote and own guns in December because of the policy. Bowen only saw six weeks pass before he lost those rights again after being convicted of possession of child pornography.
Though Bowen never had the chance to vote in an election during those six weeks, Gillespie uses him to make a case for why Northam’s policy is detrimental to Virginia.
“Mr. Gillespie, determined to inflame and distract voters, could not be bothered with such details,” the editorial board writes. “Once known as a pragmatist and a centrist, Mr. Gillespie increasingly has been turning in his political advertising to President Trump’s brand of divisive, scaremongering politics. It’s a poisonous strategy for the nation and for Virginia.”
Polls show a tight race between Gillespie and Northam — making Virginia’s the most competitive state-wide election of 2017 — and the campaign is getting increasingly heated. In addition to guns and immigration, the two have sparred over Confederate statues, taking opposite sides in the debate over whether such memorials should come down.
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