A racial chasm split the Virginia democratic gubernatorial ticket between candidate for Governor Ralph Northam and candidate for Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax ahead of Barack Obama’s campaign appearance on Thursday.
Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam’s campaign became ensconced in controversy this week as the Northam campaign printed fliers that excluded a picture of African American running mate Justin Fairfax.
The Northam campaign created a Fairfax-free flier for the Democrat-leaning Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) that removes any reference to the lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Justin Fairfax because the union endorsed Ralph Northam but not Justin Fairfax.
Obama announced that he will appear at an October 19 rally in Richmond, Virginia to discuss “The need for the next governor to create economic opportunity for all Virginians – no matter who are you are or where you’re from. President Obama will encourage Virginians to vote for Ralph and the Democratic ticket on November 7.”
Quentin James, the founder of Collective PAC, a political action committee that supports progressive black candidates, including Justin Fairfax, alleged that the move to exclude Fairfax from the campaign smells of subtle racism.
James said, “It reeks of subtle racism, if not a tone deafness about how we are going to win in November. Leaving Justin Fairfax off…even if it’s only for a small universe of union members, still sends the wrong message.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, Fairfax said it was a “mistake” to exclude him from the flair.
Fairfax argued, “Everyone who is looking at this will make their own judgments about this particular instance. This should not have happened, and it should not happen again, and there needs to be robust investment in making sure that we are communicating with African American voters and we are engaging our base.”
Phillip Thompson, the president of the Loudoun County NAACP, said that the Fairfax’s exclusion from the campaign flier reinforces a perception that the Virginia Democratic Party sees him as an outsider. Thompson explained:
A lot of us feel the Virginia Democratic Party has never been a very inclusive group, and they always kind of marginalize African Americans without providing any grounds for advancement. Hillary (Clinton) won the state of Virginia because of the African American, Hispanic and minority vote…Justin is [the] perfect person to help them do that again, and they still don’t support him.
The Virginia Democrat Party previously excluded Fairfax at the party’s 2016 state convention; they later issued an apology to Justin Fairfax after previously attacking him over whether he could speak at the party’s state convention in 2016.
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie took the lead over Democrat candidate Ralph Northam, according to a poll from Monmouth University released on Tuesday.