The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board on Wednesday slammed Virginia Democrats for attempting to link Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie to white nationalist "hate" in a new mailer, calling their effort "practically libel."
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam's campaign has castigated Gillespie in the weeks leading up to Election Day for his ads painting Northam as soft on the MS-13 street gang and sex offenders. Now, Northam is taking his response a step further.
All three campaigns on Virginia's Democratic ticket approved a new mailer ad that was released Tuesday showing Gillespie and President Donald Trump superimposed above a photo of white nationalists holding tiki torches.
"That isn't merely a reach. It's practically libel," the editorial board wrote.
"Gillespie has repeatedly and passionately condemned white supremacists and other creatures that have crawled out from under the alt-right rock," the editorial board continued. "Linking him to them requires the following absurd logic: (1) Donald Trump said some stupid things about Charlottesville. (2) Trump is a Republican. (3) Gillespie is a Republican. (4) Therefore, Gillespie supports racial hate."
The Times-Dispatch was also critical of Gillespie's campaign for trying to link Northam and MS-13 by saying that he is weak on illegal immigration and violent gangs.
The paper also targeted the campaign of Democrat Kathy Tran, who is running for the House of Delegates, because she endorsed a mailer that shows her Republican opponent, Lolita Mancheno-Smoak, a Latina candidate, among Halloween's "scariest threats."
The editorial board said that Republicans "have a point" when they say that if they released a similar mailer, they would be "labeled racist."
Times-Dispatch reporter Patrick Wilson tweeted out a picture of Tran's mailer ad against her Republican opponent.
Democrat Kathy Tran attack mailer against Republican Lolita Mancheno-Smoak in race to replace Albo in Fairfax County pic.twitter.com/OC8XOLbtAI
— Patrick Wilson (@patrickmwilson) October 24, 2017
The Democratic Party of Virginia funded the mailer that features a black-and-white photo of Mancheno-Smoak next to a werewolf and "Jason" hockey mask. The photos were under the text, "This Halloween season, protect your family from the scariest threats," according to the Washington Post.
Virginia House Majority Leader Kirk Cox's spokesperson, Parker Slaybaugh, slammed the mail ad for being "hateful" and "offensive."
"This hateful and offensive mail piece smeared a woman, who legally immigrated to this country, simply because she is running for office as a Republican," Slaybaugh said. "Considering the false attacks that Democrats have leveled against Republicans this election season, it's very hypocritical."