With just days before the Nov. 5 election in Virginia, the Republican Party of Virginia sent out a racist mailer attacking Delegate Kelly Fowler of Virginia Beach, depicting Fowler, who is of Mexican and Filipino descent, as a criminal gang member. The mailer was authorized by Fowler’s opponent, Republican Shannon Kane.
The front of the mailer depicts Fowler holding a sign that says “ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE WELCOME HERE!” in front of a scene of a large number of brown-skinned people walking, with no location or context for the photo noted.
And if the pandering to racists wasn’t clear enough to anyone viewing the front of the mailer, the graphic on the back makes it plain. There a Photoshopped picture of Fowler shows her standing with three mean-looking, shirtless MS-13 gang members with tattoos on their faces and bodies. They stand against a graffitied backdrop. Below the photo, block-letter text describes Fowler as an “extremist” and claims that she “openly welcomes Illegal Immigrants into our community putting our families safety at risk.” (Perhaps it was the copyeditor’s day off.)
The mailer also attacked Fowler’s voting record in misleading language. Governor Ralph Northam vetoed a bill banning so-called sanctuary cities, and in keeping with Democrats, Fowler did not vote to override him. And Fowler supports in-state tuition rates—not simply “free” tuition as the mailer would have you believe—for DACA recipients (should the DACA program be eliminated) and individuals under 27 who have filed for permanent residency or asylum.
Fowler responded to the ad. “My great grandfather came from Mexico and I have 2 grandfathers that immigrated from the Philippines,” she wrote on Facebook. “My opponent chose to present me as a criminal gang member and this is extremely racist. I grew up in a military family and my husband is a law enforcement officer. I believe that if you commit a violent crime in Virginia, you should go to prison, regardless of where you came from.”
The mailer wasn’t the only xenophobic advertisement by a member of the Virginia GOP. As Blue Virginia’s lowkell reported, John Gray, the Republican running for chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, posted a video to Facebook using similar imagery.
The race in Virginia Beach is a key local race for a seat that Republicans are hoping to flip. With the possibility that Virginia Republicans could lose their control of the Virginia state House on Nov. 5, it appears that Republican Party of Virginia and Kane are taking to fearmongering and xenophobia to stir up support among their base.