Virginia's Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, and his allies have slammed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam's decision to omit Fairfax from recent campaign fliers.
Northam recently distributed a flier to labor organizers that removed any mention of Fairfax, but kept references to attorney general candidate Mark Herring. The Northam campaign downplayed the erasure, saying the labor union requested the change because it did not think Fairfax supported its members on important issues, citing his opposition to the building of a pair of natural gas pipelines.
The decision now appears to have stoked tensions within the Democratic ticket and threatens to alienate African-American voters just weeks before Election Day, according to the Washington Post. Fairfax, who is African American, disagreed with the decision and suggested the move was insensitive to black voters.
"This should not have happened, and it should not happen again, and there needs to be robust investment in making sure that we are communicating with African-American voters and engaging our base," he told the Post.
Fairfax's key allies and backers were even harsher, suggesting that a racial bias was at play.
"It reeks of subtle racism, if not a tone deafness about how were going to win in November," Collective PAC founder Quentin James told the Post. "Leaving Justin Fairfax off of mailers, even if it's only for a small universe of union members, still sends the wrong message."
Loudoun County NAACP president Phillip Thompson agreed.
"A lot of us feel the Virginia Democratic Party has never been a very inclusive group and they always kind of marginalize African Americans without providing any grounds for advancement," he said.
"Hillary [Clinton] won the state of Virginia because of the African American, Hispanic, and minority vote … Justin is the perfect person to help them do that again, and they still don't support him."