Republican Ed Gillespie has vaulted into the lead in the Virginia governor’s race even as he sought to tie his rival to Democrat-supported sanctuary city policies, possibly offering a window into GOP strategy in the 2018 midterm elections.
Gillespie’s efforts to link Democratic rival Ralph Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor, to sanctuary cites is part of Gillespie’s large effort to portray Northam as 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 gang MS-13.
“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.
Sanctuary city policies essentially protect illegal immigrants from federal deportation by barring local law enforcement authorities from notifying federal officials when they come across an illegal immigrant. The Gillespie ad refers to a Virginia bill that tried to prevent local jurisdictions from adopting such policies but never became law.
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