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Republican Ed Gillespie Closes Gap in VA Senate Race after Airing Redskins Ad

Republican Ed Gillespie Closes Gap in VA Senate Race after Airing Redskins Ad

Ed Gillespie, like the Washington Redskins, figured to be a longshot this year. But with the aid of the local team, the Virginia Republican finds himself in a Senate race too close to call the day after the election.

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a bill to force the Redskins to change their name,” a male voice informed on a Gillespie ad that ran on Monday Night Football last week. “Mark Warner refused to answer if he supports the bill or not. Why won’t Warner fight the anti-Redskins bill? Why won’t he answer the question.”  

A smiling Gillespie then appears on the screen. “I’ll answer the question,” the former Republican National Committee chairman volunteers. “I’ll oppose the anti-Redskins bill.”

The ad aired during the ESPN broadcast of the Redskins-Cowboys game last week. Washington entered the contest a 9.5-point underdog. But the Redskins overcame the expectations and handed the high-riding Cowboys defeat. Gillespie, similarly, shocked political prognosticators by making a race of an election some saw as a runaway. FiveThirtyEight.com gave Gillespie a slighter than three percent chance of winning. By Wednesday morning, Gillespie trailed by about 12,000 out of more than two million votes cast. The candidate appear headed toward a recount. 

Adversaries ridiculed a political ad on sports. But they aren’t laughing this morning.

The controversial ad details issues, such as jobs, that Gillespie would prioritize if elected. The juxtaposition of a sports controversy with the economy in the ad suggests that Reid, Warner, and other Senate Democrats have lost touch with voters by overlooking substantive issues in favor of a symbolic fight on a team nickname.

Gillespie instructs, “Let the Redskins handle what to call their team.”

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