|For three whole weeks — 21 days — Ed Gillespie has refused to speak out against Donald Trump’s defense of white supremacists in Charlottesville.
Instead of breaking with the President, Gillespie has seemingly tried to re-make himself in Trump's image. As the Washington Post’s Peter Galuszka writes, Gillespie has “shed his nice-guy image and become more abrasive in the manner of President Trump.” The result has been ugly. Not only has Gillespie refused to speak out against Trump, he has been running divisive, false television ads, hired conspiracy theorist and former Trump staffer Jack Morgan, and begun fundraising off of Trumpian attacks on The Washington Post.
As Galuszk notes, Gillespie’s Trumpian turn comes with big risks — because any imitation of “Trump’s political style brings out the worst in people and plays to white supremacists.”
Washington Post: Trumpism infects the Virginia GOP
By Peter Galuszka
Hard-right Virginia Republicans are becoming more influential in the run-up to November’s gubernatorial election in which Republican nominee Ed Gillespie is trying to shed his nice-guy image and become more abrasive in the manner of President Trump.
Gillespie has hired as his aide Jack Morgan, a minister from Southwest Virginia and a former Trump campaign activist. Morgan has called moves to dismantle Confederate monuments from public spaces a communist plot to undermine America. He also believes civil war is near.
Meanwhile, the popular conservative blog Bearing Drift has called out Fredy Burgos, a member of the Central Committee of the Virginia Republican Party.
Writing on the blog, D.J. Spiker says that statements made by Burgos on Facebook and elsewhere show that he is not the kind of person that state Republicans should want guiding their party.
In one such post, Burgos complained about “Cultural Marxists” hijacking the state GOP. He wrote in an Aug. 20 post: “Cultural Marxists have promoted the idea that white people, instead of birthing white babies, should interracially marry or adopt non-white children. Cultural Marxism is a racist, anti-white, anti-God ideology.”
Responding on Bearing Drift, Spiker wrote, “This is bigotry. It is disgusting, and reprehensible.
Burgos has dubbed Islam “a death cult organized by Satan.” The statement angered Nadia Elgendy, chair of the College Republican Federation of Virginia and a Muslim, according to Spiker. Burgos apparently apologized.
Such scuffles show the Trumpian trauma that the Virginia Republican Party is undergoing. Not that long ago, the GOP seemed almost genteel as they pursued their pro-business, anti-regulation policies.
Behind all of this, of course, is Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County. Known for his strong anti-immigrant views, Stewart spread terror among establishment Republicans by coming a hair’s length from knocking off Gillespie in June’s primary.
Since then, Gillespie has been under tremendous pressure to double down and become more Trumplike because doing so worked very well for Stewart, who now is running for the U.S. Senate in 2018.
That’s not easy for Gillespie, a mild-mannered former lobbyist who worked in the administration of President George W. Bush and once headed the Republican National Committee. Some of Gillespie’s television ads warmly feature his immigrant family. That is a huge contradiction to his hiring of Morgan.
Equally easy-going is his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a physician who cruised to victory in the primary.
The likes of Morgan and Burgos show just how desperately the state GOP is trying to shore up rural voters who tend to favor Trump’s vengefulness and think the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson should be left alone.
This shows, again, how Trump’s political style brings out the worst in people and plays to white supremacists.