The Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam campaign released a report that blamed online ‘bots’ for the increased online activity over the Latino Victory Fund (LVF) ad that featured an Ed Gillespie supporter attempting to run down minority children.
The Latino Victory Fund ad became a center point of the Virginia gubernatorial race; the Northam campaign and the Latino Victory Fund faced bipartisan backlash over the controversial ad. Even the Washington Post called the ad “vile” and “despicable.” Virginia campaign finance reports revealed that the Latino Victory Fund coordinated with the Northam campaign on the controversial ad.
Rather than admit that the LVF ad stirred controversy among Virginia residents, the Northam campaign released a study commissioned by Discourse Intelligence that suggested that the increased online activity was mostly attributed to “online bots.”
David Abrams, a spokesman for the Gillespie campaign, countered the Northam campaign’s report, saying that it had “absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Virginians in both parties found this ad to be, in the words of the Washington Post editorial board, ‘vile’ and ‘despicable.’ The Northam campaign is so desperate they have resorted to fabricating conspiracy theories for their failing campaign. Since the ad ran, our online donations have tripled, and we have been inundated with requests to volunteer. The only question that remains is why hasn’t Ralph Northam condemned this attack on his fellow Virginians, and what exactly was his campaign’s role in the production of this spot.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, claimed that “Russian operatives” continue to influence American elections.
Warner said, “Russian operatives are attempting to initiate and manipulate American social media to hijack the national conversation and to make Americans angry, to set us against ourselves and … to undermine our democracy. They did it in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. They are still doing it now.”
Chelsea Handler, who had her Netflix talk show cancelled, blamed “Russian bots” on November for influencing the Virginia gubernatorial race.
Handler tweeted, “Russian bots are already interfering with Virginia’s election. Spreading disinformation and race-baiting”:
Russian bots are already interfering with Virginia's election. Spreading disinformation and race baiting.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) November 4, 2017
The Ralph Northam campaign remains engulfed in controversy in the wake of the Latino Victory Fund ad. The Northam campaign excluded a black candidate for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, from their campaign fliers, and Democracy for America denounced Northam’s campaign after they flip-flopped in favor of banning sanctuary cities last week. Former Democratic Gov. Doug Wilder refused to endorse Ralph Northam, and blamed Northam for the campaign flier faux pas.
Virginia Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Jill Vogel declared that Tuesday’s Virginia election “will define the future of Virginia for a generation.”
The Virginia gubernatorial election is on Tuesday, November 7.