Then Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam decried Republican nominee Ed Gillespie’s “racist rhetoric and fearmongering” in October 2017.
In October, Northam attacked Republican nominee Ed Gillespie over his television and radio ads attacking sanctuary cities and MS-13. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Gillespie’s ads hurt Richmond, Virginia, Latinos, including Alfredo Martinez, who comes from Mexico.
Northam included the Times-Dispatch article and tweeted in October 2017, “VA is an inclusive and diverse community—we won’t put up with Ed Gillespie’s racist rhetoric and fearmongering.”
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
The Virginian-Pilot, the largest daily newspaper in Virginia, obtained the photo from the Eastern Virginia Medical School library.
BREAKING: Gov. Ralph Northam yearbook page shows blackface and Klan photohttps://t.co/6A89ejp5Ho
— The Virginian-Pilot (@virginianpilot) February 1, 2019
Northam apologized in a statement on Friday saying he’s “deeply sorry,” and then included this tweet:
STATEMENT FROM NORTHAM APOLOGIZING FOR YEARBOOK pic.twitter.com/NB646Gkh4m
— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) February 1, 2019
Virginia Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) defended Northam, saying:
His whole life has been about exactly the opposite and that’s what you need to examine, not something that occurred 30 years ago. While it’s in very poor taste, I would think there is problem [sic] no one in the General Assembly who would like their college conduct examined. I would hate to have to go back and examine my two years in the Army. Trust me. I was 18 years old and I was a handful, OK? His life since then has been anything but. It’s been a life of helping people, and many times for free.
Leftist groups such as the Latino Victory Fund (LVF) also tried to stoke inflammatory rhetoric during the gubernatorial campaign. The LVF released an ad in October which featured an Ed Gillespie supporter with a Confederate flag and a Gadsden flag license plate attempting to run down minority children. The ad then asks whether Gillespie would condone this behavior.
The ad also included footage from the alt-right “Unite the Rally” in August 2017 and the announcer asks, “Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by the American dream?”
The LVF ad sparked so much controversy that even the Washington Post slammed the ad as “vile” and “despicable” and chided Northam for not calling out the ad.
The Post wrote, “It behooves Mr. Northam, while he is offering criticism, to make clear that even though the anti-Gillespie spot was not a product of his campaign, his campaign wants no part of it.”
Northam’s campaign originally did not disavow the ad and instead doubled down on the rhetoric.
Then-Northam spokeswoman Ofirah Yheskel said, “Independent groups are denouncing Ed Gillespie because he has run the most divisive, fear-mongering campaign in modern history. It is not shocking that communities of color are scared of what his Trump-like policy positions mean for them.”
After LVF pulled the ad, Yheskel said in a statement to Breitbart News, “Latino Victory Fund has taken the ad down and we believe it’s appropriate and the right thing to do.”
Ed Gillespie campaign manager Chris Leavitt slammed the Latino Victory Fund’s ad.
“This is not an attack on Ed Gillespie anymore,” said Leavitt. “This is an all-out attack on the people of Virginia. This latest ad gives a clear indication of just what Ralph Northam and his national Democratic allies think of all of us, and it’s sickening.”