Lies and Fear Mongering: The Theme of John Adams’ Campaign

5.November.17

Virginians have a crucial choice to make on Tuesday. Not just for governor, but for Attorney General. And in the race between the current Democratic Attorney General, Mark Herring, or his race-baiting opponent John Adams, my money is on Herring.

A few weeks ago, John Adams, the Republican candidate for Virginia’s next attorney general, was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on DC’s local NPR station. A few minutes into the interview, Kojo announced that the phone lines were jam-packed with callers anxiously waiting to ask Adams about his extremist, anti-woman, anti-immigrant, and anti-LGBTQ agenda.

On the air, Adams gave neutral responses to many of their questions, but his words and actions on the campaign trail tell a very different story.

One of the callers, a friend of mine, asked Adams about his adamant opposition to abortion rights – despite the fact that the majority of Virginians support a woman’s right to choose. Adams responded with a statement chock-full of contradictions. He said he would “not restrict abortion rights,” but added the caveat that he would “support [the General Assembly] through dispassionate legal advice.”

This caveat is revealing. The Virginia General Assembly, controlled by Republicans, has repeatedly tried to set back the clock on women’s reproductive rights. This past legislative session, Republican legislators introduced bills banning 20-week abortions and “defunding” Planned Parenthood – actions that would disproportionately impact the ability low-income people and people of color to access critical medical care. Moreover, one glance at Adams’ website, where he states, “I am unequivocally pro-life,” demonstrates that he has no qualms about imposing his own personal beliefs on women across the Commonwealth.

Next, a tweet regarding Adam’s views on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was also brought up by the host of the radio show. This issue hits close to home for me – I grew up undocumented and lived in constant fear that someone would discover my immigration status and deport me from my home. Again, in classic Adams style, he gave a seemingly neutral response to hide his extreme anti-immigrant agenda. On the show, Adams said the government shouldn’t deport DACA recipients because he did not want to punish people who have spent a majority of their lives in the United States.

If only Adams’ words reflected his true beliefs. Throughout his campaign, Adams has used lies to vilify students who want nothing more than to get an education and give back to their families and communities. Just watch one of his recent political ads, which makes the erroneous claim that all undocumented students get in-state tuition and steal tuition slots from other Virginians.

The facts are not on Adams’ side: undocumented students do not automatically get in-state tuition; that only applies to certain DACA beneficiaries who meet every requirement set forth by Virginia’s Code. Study after study highlights the many great contributions DACA beneficiaries make to their communities, schools, and our state’s economy. It’s no wonder that, after President Trump’s cold-hearted decision to end the program, university presidents across the country stood on the side of DACA recipients who deserve the same shot as everyone else at the American Dream.

When it comes to John Adams, actions speak louder than words. He says he would not politicize the office of the Virginia Attorney General, yet his campaign is based on promises to reverse the Supreme Court decision that granted marriage equality across the country, limit access to reproductive health care services, and evict hard-working students away from the only home they have ever known. Read between the lines, and you can see that Adams is nothing more than the local arm of the Trump Administration whose mission is to roll back all the progress we’ve made towards justice and equal rights for all in the Commonwealth.

We cannot allow this extremist candidate to hold public office, let alone serve as our state’s legal backbone. This Tuesday, let’s elect Democratic candidate for attorney general, Mark Herring, to preserve our progress, defend our families and continue preserve our civil liberties.

Rodrigo Velasquez is a formerly undocumented immigrant, an activist and a communications fellow for the Center for Community Change Action.