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GOP nominee Ed Gillespie caught on tape calling Northern Virginia "enemy territory"

Corporate lobbyist and Republican Ed Gillespie has been running an increasingly racist campaign for Virginia governor. But at a private fundraiser in September, he revealed an outright and shocking disdain for the citizens of his own state. Campaigning in Harrisonburg with Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain, he laughingly referred to Northern Virginia, where he has […]

By Kaili Joy Gray - November 02, 2017
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Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie

But at a private fundraiser in September, he revealed an outright and shocking disdain for the citizens of his own state. Campaigning in Harrisonburg with Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain, he laughingly referred to Northern Virginia, where he has less support among voters and the general population is less likely to be won by overtly racist campaign tactics, as “enemy territory.”

OBENSHAIN: Our guy is out there working the streets, I saw him working the Metro stations just the other day.

GILLESPIE: I do. A bit of enemy territory, but working it.

The Metro is the commuter rail that services the Washington, D.C. area. Many Virginia residents who use the Metro work in the district. Northern Virginia is the more Democratic-leaning part of the commonwealth and has influenced its politics overall.

Once reliably red, no Republican has won statewide office since 2009. Virginia voted twice for President Barack Obama and for Hillary Clinton; for Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the outgoing governor; for Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Gillespie’s opponent; and for Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats.

It’s the citizens of Northern Virginia who have led the changing political landscape.

And that’s the part Gillespie laughingly called “enemy territory.”

It’s also where Shareblue Media reporter Mike Stark was violently arrested Saturday while covering a public event, the annual Annandale parade. Gillespie’s campaign claimed Stark was “too close.”

Gillespie has been running a shockingly divisive campaign. He has run TV ads conflating Latino immigrants with criminal gang members. Like Donald Trump, whose endorsement he won after launching his racist ad, he blamed “both sides” for the violent white supremacist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia — and then use that comment to fundraise for his campaign.

He then launched an ad passionately called for the preservation of statues to treasonous generals who waged war against the United States to preserve slavery and attacking Northam for not supporting those memorials to white supremacy. Trump praised that ad by saying that Gillespie “might even save our great statues/heritage.” The message of Gillespie’s ad — a direct appeal to white supremacy — was loud and clear enough for Trump to hear it.

And throughout his campaign, Gillespie has dodged questions about his racist ads and appeal to white supremacists, even working with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon to seek endorsements from avowed racists.

It’s one thing to use harsh language to describe one’s political opponent. Gillespie has certainly done that. But to describe an entire region of citizens as the enemy is appalling, even for Gillespie. It raises serious questions about whether and how Gillespie would serve the citizens of Northern Virginia if he were elected, and whether he might make the “enemy” pay for not supporting him.

His description of voters who might not support him or his policies as the enemy shows that he is not interested in representing all Virginians. And that clearly makes him unfit for the office he seeks.


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