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Controversial Attack Ad Likely Just the Beginning Leading Up to Election Day

Republicans are up in arms about a piece of direct mail in the hotly contested race for governor.

Now arriving in mailboxes across Virginia: a piece of direct mail from Democrats showing an image of Republican candidate for governor Ed Gillespie next to President Donald Trump superimposed over a crowd of torch wielding white supremacists in Charlottesville.

“I do think that this particular one goes too far.”

That’s Bob Denton at Virginia Tech.

“It’s about stimulus response. It’s very ad hominem. It’s guilt by association, no facts being provided. What they want is an emotion reaction."

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says Republican complaints about the mailer are a little rich after a campaign that has repeatedly tried to tie Democrat Ralph Northam to MS-13.

“A campaign that has spent weeks talking about sanctuary cities that are illegal in Virginia is hardly in a position to complain about unfairness and misleading comments from the other side. If you dish it out, you’re going to have to take it.”

And the most vicious ads probably haven’t even hit mailboxes yet. Traditionally the direct mail that is received in the last weekend of an election is the most vicious, especially in close elections like the one between Gillespie and Northam.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.