Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee for Virginia governor, is losing support from one of the country’s largest and most progressive political action committees, which accuses the candidate of racists acts.
Progressive PAC Democracy for America (DFA) – which boasts more than 42,000 members in the Old Dominion alone -- announced this week that it will stop “any work to directly aid” the campaign, NationalReview.com reported.
Northam faces Republican nominee Ed Gillespie in next week’s election.
Northam is the state's current lieutenant governor. Gillespie is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
DFA said in a statement released Thursday night that it removed references to Northam in its get-out-the-vote calls after the Democratic candidate’s campaign airbrushed photos of lieutenant-governor candidate Justin Fairfax, who is African American, off campaign fliers.
The move allegedly was made to gain favor with a high-powered union. DFA officials say that the airbrushing was a “racist action.”
The PAC originally chose not to publicly discuss its decision, but reversed course after Northam said that if any city in Virginia attempted to declare sanctuary status for illegal immigrants, he would support legislation as governor to prevent them from doing so.
“[A]fter seeing Northam play directly into the hands of Republicans’ racist anti-immigrant rhetoric on sanctuary cities, we refuse to be ... even remotely complicit in the disastrous, racist, and voter-turnout-depressing campaign Ralph Northam appears intent on running,” reads the DFA statement.
“Let’s be really clear: If Ralph Northam wins next Tuesday, it won’t be because he publicly backtracked on his commitment to protecting immigrant families, but in spite of it.”
It’s believed that Northam changed his views on sanctuary cities to appeal to supporters of Gillespie.
The about-face from Northam occurred after Gillespie’s efforts to link the lieutenant governor to sanctuary cities to portray him as being soft on crime. He has made the case in debates and a barrage of TV ads that the policy of protecting illegal immigrants from federal immigration officials has helped spur the rise of the violent Central American MS-13 gang.
"MS-13 is a menace, yet Ralph Northam voted in favor of sanctuary cities that let dangerous illegal immigrants back on the street, increasing the threat of MS-13," the narrator says in one ad.
The Northam campaign has used its own TV ads to fight back against Gillespie’s efforts to tie its candidate to violent Latino gangs like MS-13 and sanctuary cities, saying the connection is “not true.”
Northam led by 7 percentage points just several weeks ago, but Gillespie now leads by 2 points, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics polls.
Virginia has elected a Republican governor only once in roughly the past 15 years, and it was the only Southern state that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won last year.
The Virginia election takes place Tuesday. Only Virginia and New Jersey are holding gubernatorial elections this year.