Could Last-Minute Attack Ad Sway Voters Ahead of Next Week's Primary?

Jun 8, 2017

Jill Vogel and Bryce Reeves

The final few days of a political campaign are always the most intense. And that’s certainly been the case in the hotly contested Republican primary for lieutenant governor.

Republican voters across the state are opening up their mailboxes to a series of attacks on state Senator Jill Vogel, one of the Republican candidates in the race for lieutenant governor. One mailer criticized what it called her “liberal” voting record because she voted to approve the first openly gay judge in Virginia. Another piece of direct mail says that vote for the gay judge is “wrong on what matters.” Robert Denton at Virginia Tech says now is the time for rough and tumble politics.

“Most vicious attacks come toward the last minute done primarily in direct mail, not as much as on television as people think. The most vicious attacks are in direct mail.”

In this case, the attack comes from state Senator Bryce Reeves — one of the other two Republicans in that race. But will attacking a candidate for voting for a gay judge work in 2017? Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says yes.

“The reality of a Republican primary, particularly when you are looking at the most extreme five or seven percent of the electorate voting — this is going to make a difference for some.”

Those mailers have prompted one influential conservative blogger to withdraw his support of Reeves. But voters will have the final say on June 13th.

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