Tracking the truth in the ads for the Virginia Governor’s race

From left to right: Ed Gillespie, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Election Day is 33 days away and if you want to cover the elections you have to cover the political commercials.

The Truth Tracker commercial, paid for by Republican Ed Gillespie, claims his rival in the governor’s race, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, cast the ‘deciding’ vote limiting cooperation with federal immigration laws.

The deciding vote indicates it was the last vote that led to legislation, but that turns out not to be true. Sanctuary cities limit its cooperation with the federal government to enforce immigration law.

We found Republican Ed Gillespie before he spoke with the members of the Virginia Beach Central Business District Association. It was supposed to be a “Gubernatorial Candidates Luncheon.” Gillespie was very effective in delivering his platform at a forum that Lt. Gov. Northam chose not to attend. Virginia Beach Businessman Bruce Thompson spoke on behalf of Northam.

We asked Gillespie about his ads that are running on WAVY-TV right now, “Who will keep your family safe? Ralph Northam cast the deciding vote in favor of Sanctuary Cities.”

Ads continue to roll out in Va. gubernatorial race

Our Truth Tracker found that claim by Gillespie in his ad FALSE. Northam’s vote was not the ‘deciding’ vote in House Bill 2000. The summary of the bill: Sanctuary policies prohibited. Provides that no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

We asked Gillespie about that, “His vote allowing for sanctuary cities would not make us safer,” he told us…that is a difference we have in policy.”

Yes, Gillespie is correct that Northam voted for and supports sanctuary cities, but his vote was not the deciding vote as the ad says. We contacted factcheck.org D’Angelo Gore who has investigated this claim too, “Northam’s vote didn’t actually keep the legislation from passing.

Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed the bill (that passed the republican controlled House of Delegates and the State Senate) and the republicans didn’t have enough votes to override the veto.” Had McAuliffe not vetoed the bill then no locality ‘shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.’ That was the Deciding vote on the Sanctuary Bill HB 2000.

We contacted the Northam Campaign, and spokesperson Ofirah Yheskel sent us this to further explain the lieutenant governor’s vote:

There are no sanctuary cities in Virginia, a fact that Ed Gillespie knows full well and even admitted to in the first gubernatorial debate. Despite knowing this fact, Ed is attacking a non-existent policy, proving he will say or do anything to get elected.

Dr. Ralph Northam will make sure violent criminals are put in jail regardless of immigration status. Dr. Northam understands immigration is a federal issue in need of a federal solution–asking local law enforcement to bear the cost of a do-nothing Congress thus increasing their legal liability is not good policy.”

We followed up with Gillespie’s Campaign about the ‘deciding vote issue’, and the campaign sent us this statement:

“Ralph Northam cast a tie-breaking vote against legislation to provide that no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws. MS-13 is a growing threat, and Ed has a plan to combat gang violence that will make Virginians safer, especially those in the immigrant community most vulnerable to MS-13 violence. Leadership is not just about responding to problems, it’s about preventing them as well, and states that have allowed sanctuary cities have not made their people safer. Ed’s commitment to improving public safety has earned him the support of the Police Benevolent Association, as well as a majority of Virginia’s sheriffs.”

The campaign told us the ads will continue running because Northam bragged about casting a tie breaking vote to support sanctuary cities: “They tried to pass a bill that I actually broke the tie on.” Northam was referring to an earlier vote that was part of the process to get to the final vote which the ad refers to.

Another Gillespie ad states: “Ralph Northam voted in favor of sanctuary cities that let illegal immigrants back on the street. Increasing the threat of MS-13 (which is a violent gang). Ralph Northam weak on MS-13, putting families at risk.”

The issue is so polarizing Northam is now running this ad: “Ed Gillespie’s attack ad about sanctuary cities is not true. If I am governor, and you commit a violent crime it doesn’t matter where you’re from you’re going to prison.”

The quickly produced :15 second ad shows Northam talking directly into the camera in what could be his home. It also indicates the Northam’s campaign ability to quickly respond to negative ads, and it indicates they obviously think this is an issue that they needed to respond to.