If Virginia Republican Barbara Comstock’s goal was to duplicate Ed Gillespie’s election strategy in every way possible, she’s doing a pretty good job of it. Like Gillespie’s strategy, she’s running gross, race-baiting MS-13 ads against her Democratic opponent. And like Gillespie’s strategy, it could end up blowing up in her face, and in a seat that “is one of 23 held by Republicans that Democrats want to flip to take control of the House.”
“New polling from the Washington Post-Schar School finds incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) losing by 12 points to challenger Jennifer Wexton in the closely-watched race in Virginia 10th congressional district,” immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice reports. “Rep. Comstock has made MS-13 a centerpiece of her campaign, running a host of attack ads hyping the threat and trying to pin a ‘weak on MS-13’ tag on Wexton.”
But it’s a strategy that failed Gillespie, the Republican gubernatorial candidate last fall, in the increasingly diverse commonwealth. Back during Gillespie’s run, Steve Bannon was downright giddy, hailing Gillespie’s strategy. That is, until election day came around. One of the main reasons why Gillespie crashed and burned is because Virginia voters saw through the racist bullshit: “There was a very negative reaction among college educated voters and swing voters generally to his MS-13 ads,” one pollster said.
You’d think Republicans would learn. But when you have nothing else to run on while you’re literally running away from Dreamers, playing divide-and-distract is the playbook. Meanwhile, Wexton has leaned in on issues vastly popular with voters, like finally putting Dreamers that Comstock tried to avoid onto a path to citizenship. “The latest polling is another reminder,” said Matt Hildreth of America’s Voice, “is another reminder that most Americans are seeing through this transparent and cynical ‘divide and distract’ strategy.”