The Corner

Politics & Policy

Democrat Northam Removes Running Mate from Ads to Appease Virginia Union Supporters

As Election Day quickly approaches in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Democratic candidate Ralph Northam appears to have scrubbed his African-American running mate, Justin Fairfax, from Northern Virginia campaign fliers, in an appeal to big labor unions.

Here’s a tweet with an image of the two fliers side by side:

Local Virginia paper the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Northam chose to remove Fairfax from some of his campaign literature at the request of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, whose spokesman claimed the lieutenant-governor candidate “wasn’t supporting [unions] on the issues.”

Specifically, Fairfax refuses to support the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a planned natural-gas line that would span 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina, crossing through much of Virginia on its way. Despite noting his own environmental concerns, Northam has reluctantly chosen to support the pipeline project, presumably because it is popular with Virginia residents for its economic potential.

Fairfax, however, has made no such concessions, and Northam’s campaign is clearly concerned that his failure to even begrudgingly accept the pipeline will endanger the Democratic ticket with powerful union voices in the state, and among voters who ally themselves with big labor.

The Northam campaign told the Washington Examiner that there was no malice behind the alteration of the ad, calling it “fairly innocuous.” “Out of over 3 million pieces of literature printed for the campaign, the piece for LiUNA canvassers constituted roughly 0.5 percent of the literature printed,” the spokesman added.

But Northam’s willingness to erase his own running mate from campaign fliers, at the behest of union leaders, reveals the incredible incoherence of Virginia’s Democratic party. It’s remarkable that a candidate who has long been favored to win the race — and who currently serves as second-in-command to the state’s fairly popular Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe — has to both pacify union supporters and appease environmentalists in order to piece together a November victory.

It’s worth considering for a moment, too, how Northam’s campaign and the mainstream media would’ve reacted had it been Republican candidate Ed Gillespie who erased a black running mate from certain campaign ads. “Trump-endorsed, gun-loving, Confederate-monument-supporting, racist Republican Ed Gillespie scrubs African American running mate from fliers!” the headlines surely would’ve read.

The mainstream media, though, has predictably ignored the incident. Of course, there is absolutely no evidence that the Northam campaign altered the fliers out of racially motivated animus — Northam clearly isn’t a racist, and no one should accuse him of being one. But surely his campaign and the media would at least have alluded to Gillespie’s possible racist intent had he pulled a stunt like this.

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