Mayoral candidate Justin Griffin recently sent out mailers arguing for a link between opponent candidate Kim Gray and Richmond For All (RFA), Governor Ralph Northam, and Louis Salomonsky. Griffin only got three percent in the most recent poll, well behind his nearest competitor Alexsis Rodgers who got 15 percent, Kim Gray, who got 16 percent, and incumbent Mayor Levar Stoney, who got 36 percent.
“You are the company you keep,” the mailer states. The ad, first tweeted by reporter Roberto Roldan, includes several photos with captions: “Gray speaking at a Richmond For All Rally” and “Richmond For All supports defunding the police, banning evictions, and raising taxes.”
It also includes a photo of Gray frowning in front of the spray-painted base of the Lee Monument, captioned, “Mayoral Candidate Kim Gray Triumphantly Posing in Front of the Graffiti Covered Lee Monument.”
Another photo shows Gray posing alongside Northam, who has endorsed her opponent Stoney. In August, Stoney tweeted that he was honored to have the governor at Stoney’s campaign kickoff.
They’re on board! I’m incredibly honored to have both @GovernorVA and Black Caucus Chair @delegatebagby joining me for our campaign kickoff tomorrow evening. Reserve your ticket here: https://t.co/qEXTLHhsHl pic.twitter.com/CbJ3MKahBk
— Levar M. Stoney (@LevarStoney) August 31, 2020
A separate photo in the mailer shows just Salomonsky, with a caption: “Real Estate Developer who served 2 years in federal prison for trying to bribe a Richmond City Councilmember.” The caption adds that Salomonsky is “one of Kim Gray’s largest campaign donors.” Salomonsky is one of nine people who gave Gray $5,000 dollars in 2020, according to The Virginia Public Access Project.
The mailer states, “Justin is not a politician. He is like you, a regular resident fed up with the corruption and mismanagement in Richmond.”
Roldan listed some problems with Griffin’s claims: The RFA rally was a rally opposing a stadium at Navy Hill. Griffin first drew attention through his protests to the stadium as well. Gray went on the John Fredericks Radio Show in June and said she supported peaceful protestors, but also criticized protestors who blocked streets and scared children. “Whether they’re in white sheets or in black on bicycles, that should not be tolerated,” she said.
Roldan also noted that Gray voted against “defunding” the police and against some tax increases.
If anyone challenges me on the “disingenuous” bit:
– RFA photo is from anti-Navy Hill rally; Griffin was on same side
– Gray went on conservative talk radio and likened some protesters to the KKK
– Gray voted against “defunding”
– Gray has opposed most tax increases
— Roberto Roldan (@ByRobertoR) October 29, 2020
Additionally, Style Weekly Photography Editor Scott Elmquist said Style Weekly owns the photo of Gray in front of the Lee Monument. In an email, Elmquist told The Virginia Star, “Mr. Griffin did not have permission to use the image.”
In an email, Griffin told The Star, “[T]he campaign was well within its legal right to use that photograph.”
The Star asked Griffin to support his claims against Gray. He said, “Throughout this election Councilwoman Gray has said one thing when addressing a liberal audience and then another when addressing a conservative audience. When on conservative radio she called protestors terrorists but then took a picture in front of the graffiti covered Lee Monument for a liberal leaning magazine.”
He said Gray spoke at the RFA rally but has now switched sides to be critical of them; he contrasted Gray’s revelation that she was teargassed at a protest with her statements criticizing extreme protesters on The John Fredericks Radio Show.
“She says she will fight corruption but then one of her largest donors went to federal prison for corruption,” Griffin said. “If anything, it is Councilwoman Gray being disingenuous with her flip-flopping positions depending on her audience.”
Griffin is one of five candidates running for Richmond mayor, but he has only raised $44,336 in a race that pundit Paul Goldman said costs around $400,000 to win. Gray herself has raised $391,502, while Stoney has raised $1,073,879, according to The Virginia Public Access Project.
Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) recently predicted Gray will win the election narrowly, splitting Richmond’s nine wards with Stoney. “At the end of the day, she should prevail in one, two, three, and four, and it will be a nail-biter on election night to see if she takes eight,” Morrissey said.
Gray’s campaign declined to provide a statement.
Full disclosure: In September, the John Fredericks Radio Network donated $400 to Kim Gray’s campaign.
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