The Republican Campaign in Virginia Is All About Preserving “Our” Confederate Statues

It’s not subtle anymore.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Virginia will choose its next governor in less than two weeks. On the surface, the dynamics of the race seem pretty favorable for Democrats. The state is doing very well economically under Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is term-limited, and President Donald Trump is extremely unpopular. The Democratic nominee is McAuliffe’s second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. And the president’s party tends to do poorly in the first midterm and off-year elections.

So Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie has tried something different. Instead of awkwardly triangulating between his president and the opposition in any substantive way, he has simply adopted Trump’s campaign wholesale—by connecting Northam to a Latino gang, MS-13, and appealing desperately to white nationalists in the campaign’s final stretch.

To wit, Gillespie’s most recent campaign ad is the second spot this month that attacks Northam for proposing to take down Richmond’s memorials to Confederate generals. Over the summer, Northam called for the statues to be taken down after a white nationalist rally at a Confederate monument in Charlottesville ended in the murder of a counterprotester. (Northam has also sent mailers linking Trump and Gillespie to the Charlottesville white nationalists.)

“Ralph Northam will take our statues down,” the narrator says in the latest ad. “Ed Gillespie will preserve them.” Then Gillespie comes on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMpKbQULZZ0

It doesn’t take a degree from Wharton to understand who the “our” in that sentence is. “I’m for keeping ’em up, and he’s for taking ’em down,” the Republican says, driving home the point. “And that’s a big difference in November.”

Trump, for his part, understands exactly what’s going on:

Gillespie is from New Jersey. Trump is from Queens. If the Confederacy had had this kind of support up North during the Civil War, we might be living in a much different world.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate