Ed Gillespie made a bet.
By embracing the political priorities of President Trump, he figured, he could help bolster enthusiasm from Trump-supporting voters who had nearly blocked his nomination to be the Republican nominee for governor in Virginia. Those voters had apparently preferred Corey A. Stewart, a candidate who had internalized Trump’s politics in a way that Gillespie hadn’t. So, as Election Day approached, Gillespie ran ads highlighting immigration, “sanctuary cities” and gang violence, despite the fact that crime is much lower in Virginia than in most of the rest of the country.
It was a gamble, but polling suggested it might be working. His opponent, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, saw his lead over Gillespie erode over the past few weeks. Trump weighed in for Gillespie in a series of tweets and with automated Election Day phone calls encouraging turnout.
.@EdWGillespie will totally turn around the high crime and poor economic performance of VA. MS-13 and crime will be gone. Vote today, ASAP!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2017
On Tuesday night, the bottom fell out. Largely on the strength of an unexpected surge in turnout, Northam won easily. Expected to prevail by a bit over three points, he’ll end up with a victory of at least twice that size. After a close loss in a Senate race in 2014, Gillespie lost again, this time by much more.
Trump wasted no time in distancing himself from Gillespie, enjoying the spaciousness of his now-280-character tweets.
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
SOURCE: Philip Bump
The Washington Post