A vulnerable suburban Richmond Republican is bringing Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook scandal into his state Senate bid, criticizing his Democratic challenger for calling on Northam to resign but later taking Northam PAC money.
The attacks come via direct mail pieces by Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Chesterfield, who is seeking a second term. He is running against Democrat Ghazala Hashmi, who has outraised him.
The race in Senate District 10 is among a handful of Nov. 5 contests that could determine control of the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority.
Hashmi, a community college administrator, tweeted in February that Northam should resign. She was among countless Democrats in Virginia and nationally who made such calls after the revelation of a racist photo on Northam’s page in his 1984 medical school yearbook.
After an attempt to explain himself at a February news conference, Northam resisted pressure to resign and remained in office. An investigation by the law firm McGuireWoods failed to determine who was in the yearbook photo on Northam’s page, which showed one person in Ku Klux Klan attire and a second person wearing blackface.
Sturtevant’s mail attack notes that Hashmi tweeted that Northam should resign, then in June accepted $25,000 from his political action committee, The Way Ahead.
Sturtevant’s mailer calls Hashmi, a first-time candidate who decided to run for office because of political attacks on Muslims, “a dishonest politician who will do anything to win.”
Hashmi declined to be interviewed.
Her campaign manager, Philip Stein, said by email that the mailers are “just another typical, partisan Republican attack from Senator Sturtevant and his Republican allies.
“It’s the type of desperate and dishonest negative campaigning we expect from a politician who can’t run on his Republican record of voting to take away health care, diverting funds from public education, and selling out to the NRA. The voters that we talk to every day are concerned about access to affordable health care, funding for public education, and solutions to the gun violence epidemic. We trust voters won’t be fooled by this distraction.”
Sturtevant said in an interview that a state senator needs to be consistent.
“It’s important for a state senator to take a stand on issues, and to stand by positions that you’ve taken and campaigned on,” he said. “I called on the governor to resign back when his scandal broke. Hashmi did as well. And then she took $25,000, and that has apparently changed. And so I think the question is, why has that changed after receiving $25,000 from Northam’s PAC?”
Sturtevant also dinged Hashmi in his mail pieces for pledging not to take money from “corporate polluters” but then accepting money from Northam, the Democratic Party of Virginia, and the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, all of whom have taken big dollars from Dominion Energy. The Democratic Party of Virginia recently announced that it will no longer accept money from Dominion.
Sturtevant said he’s “proud to be supported by Dominion and Dominion employees,” saying the company is a large employer in the district.
“Hashmi claims that she refuses to take money from Dominion, but every one of us knows that Dominion gives money to the Senate Democratic Caucus, and then they turn around and they give that money right to Hashmi,” Sturtevant said. “So she’s apparently OK taking it when there’s a middleman.”
Dominion has been the largest corporate donor since 1999 to both the Democratic and Republican Senate caucuses, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
The 10th District includes Powhatan County and parts of Chesterfield County and Richmond. Republican performance in the district in statewide elections since Sturtevant’s election in 2015 has been poor.