Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie enlisted the help of several Latino GOP members, including New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez, to support his candidacy in the wake of criticism from immigrant groups who have found Gillespie’s campaign ads as racist.
The ads claim that current policies in Virginia protect Central American gang MS-13. Gillespie has also recently advocated for the preservation of Confederate monuments—including a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, the site of an Alt-Right protest that ultimately resulted in the death of activist Heather Heyer. President Donald Trump recently tweeted his support for Gillespie, calling the candidate “strong on crime” and someone that could save “our great statues/heritage.”
Though Gillespie was viewed in the past as a more moderate candidate, he has taken a more conservative stance on many policies recently. Some outlets—including the Washington Post and Santa Fe New Mexican—have published articles believing this to be the result of Trump-like candidates taking office. These commentators point to Trump’s campaign in which he referred to undocumented immigrants as “rapists” and criminals. Though Gillespie has kept his distance from the polarizing president, his ads echo Trump’s sentiments.
Governor Martinez has a history of running anti-immigrant campaigns. On March 15, 2017, she criticized Bernalillo County for becoming a sanctuary county. One of her first actions as governor was eliminating pro-immigrant policies put in place by former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Among many controversial choices, Martinez repealed laws that allowed undocumented immigrants to received driver’s licenses—something that was only legal in New Mexico, Washington, and Utah at the time.
Martinez, the nation’s first Hispanic female governor, apparently travelled to Virginia to campaign on her dime. According to the Albuquerque Journal, no taxpayer money was used. Her speech precedes another endorsement from former presidential candidate Marco Rubio. The Virginia gubernatorial election will be held on November 7.Like this story? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get more of our best original news.