Ralph Northam, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, strangely omitted any mention of the party’s black candidate for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, from “about a thousand pieces of campaign literature,” the Washington Post reports. The newspaper admitted that this move has “stoked tensions within the Democratic ticket and threatens to alienate African American voters three weeks before Election Day”:
The palm cards with photos of Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) were produced for canvassers with the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which asked that Fairfax be excluded because it did not endorse him. Fairfax has spoken critically of two proposed natural gas pipelines that the union supports.
Quentin James, founder of The Collective PAC which supports African American candidates, immediately used the opportunity to turn against the party that uses the race card time and again against Republicans:
It reeks of subtle racism, if not a tone deafness about how we are going to win in November. Leaving Justin Fairfax off … even if it’s only for a small universe of union members, still sends the wrong message.
Obviously, we should expect racism from the party of slavery and “separate but equal,” but you somehow get the impression that it all comes as a surprise to some Democrats nonetheless.
When asked about Northam’s “dog-whistle,” Fairfax made clear he wasn’t happy with it:
Everyone who is looking at this will make their own judgements about this particular instance. 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 we are engaging our base.
Fairfax was probably contacted afterwards, when he changed his tune and suddenly became much more conciliatory:
This is a strong ticket and one that is working well together. One piece of literature does not change that. Voters from across the Commonwealth have responded enthusiastically to Justin’s candidacy and the entire Democratic ticket. They are excited about our plan to offer more educational opportunity, economic growth, and more access to health care and they will reject the divisive and cynical politics of our opponents. That’s why Justin’s been endorsed by organizations like the VA AFL-CIO, Virginia Education Association and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia.
Ah. Yes. Zero tolerance towards racism — except when a Democrat is discriminating against African Americans. Then it’s suddenly an honest mistake that does not reflect badly on the rest of the party, or even on the racist Democrat himself. Clearly, Fairfax’s personal ambitions trump his passion to fight racism — even when he‘s the victim of it.
Phillip Thompson, president of the Loudoun County NAACP (a professional race card-pulling organization if ever there was one), is slightly less forgiving:
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. Hillary (Clinton) won the state of Virginia because of the African American, Hispanic and minority vote … Justin is perfect person to help them do that again, and they still don’t support him.
Well, Philip, I hate to tell you this, but I’m afraid there’s one very simple reason for them not wanting to do so: when push comes to shove, it’s the Democratic Party that’s racist to its core.
The good news for Thompson and Fairfax? It’s never too late to switch parties.