Liberal Group Calls Virginia Democrat ‘Racist’ for Opposing Sanctuary Cities

Alex Roarty, McClatchy, November 2, 2017

A liberal activist group on Thursday labeled Ralph Northam’s campaign “racist,” criticizing the Virginia Democrat running for governor a day after he declared that he would not support “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants.

“Let’s be really clear: If Ralph Northam wins next Tuesday, it won’t be because he publicly backtracked on his commitment to protecting immigrant families, but in spite of it,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, a grassroots progressive activist based in Vermont.

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The statement, issued Thursday night, drew a swift and strong rebuke from many Democrats and liberals, including its founder, Howard Dean, who blasted the statement as “incredibly stupid” and one that “discredits” the group.

But it highlighted the pressure now facing many Democratic candidates, who must choose between adopting a politically controversial position — support for sanctuary cities — or risking the wrath of the party’s increasingly vocal liberal faction.

It also comes in the same week as a new TV ad from the Latino Victory Project, which showed a pickup truck adorned with a Confederate flag chasing down young children of color. {snip}

In an interview, a DFA spokesman defended the group’s criticism of Northam’s campaign, saying Democrats face both a moral and political imperative to stand up to President Donald Trump.

“In an era where you have a bigot running the federal government, and someone like Jeff Sessions in charge of the Justice Department, you cannot stand up to racism and hate if you’re not, at every opportunity, standing up for struggling immigrants being threatened by the federal government,” said Neil Sroka, DFA spokesman.

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… In this case, the group felt compelled — and reserves the right to do so with other Democratic candidates.

“We’re not going to shy away from it either,” Sroka said. “We have a moral responsibility to do it.”

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DFA (and many Democrats) considers Gillespie’s ads racist. But Sroka said the group still felt compelled to speak out against Northam because Democrats need to realize that, politically speaking, defending the rights of minorities is essential.

“Given how important and essential black and brown communities are to Democrats, isn’t it important to be a candidate who stands with those communities unequivocally when they’re under threat?” Sroka asked. “That should be the question to any candidate running for office.”

He added: “Until we fully absorb that the strength of this party is in black and brown and progressive white voters … we are going to have a very difficult time winning elections.”

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