- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

As voters funneled into an elementary school in Prince William County on Tuesday to cast votes in Virginia’s elections, the party volunteers passing out sample ballots got sidetracked in a debate over the validity of the infamous anti-Trump dossier from last year’s presidential campaign.

The Democratic volunteer, a 70-year-old who gave her name as Carlotta, said she is convinced that some of the dossier is true and is certain that special counsel Robert Mueller will find something about Mr. Trump. Jimmy Kettl, the 19-year-old Republican poll worker, said the dossier sounded like fake news to him, based on some of the salacious and unsubstantiated accusations it contained.

“I am not 100 percent sure how we got to it, and the whole time we were talking about it I was like, ‘We are here for a state election. Why does this matter?’” Mr. Kettl said.

While the national political parties insisted the elections weren’t about Mr. Trump, those who showed up at the polls said he was a dominating presence.

“The United States is looking at the Virginia race today and that we want to have somebody moved into the governorship and carry on the things that Democrats stand for,” said Lenore Plissner, 82, who showed up to work the polls in Woodbridge. She said Mr. Trump “tremendously” affected her political outlook, leaving her distraught over the direction of politics.

She backed Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee for governor, over Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate.

While Mr. Gillespie tried to keep Mr. Trump at arm’s length throughout the campaign, voters didn’t hesitate to make the connection.

“Ralph Northam is a great, solid guy. He’s not Bernie. He doesn’t shout. He’s not flamboyant. But he’s a wonderful man who has dedicated himself to people’s health on and off the battlefield,” said Carol Douglis, voting in Alexandria. “Against him, we have an avid Trump supporter who spent his life gaining from corporate lobbying, who is in bed with the NRA. Who seems to love guns and hate women. Who doesn’t believe in Planned Parenthood or birth control, women’s rights.”

Enrique Sanz, 56, who has lived in the country for 30 years and obtained citizenship in 1994 through President Reagan’s 1986 amnesty program, said he showed up to send a signal about Mr. Trump’s immigration policies and their effects on the Hispanic community.

“With the other governors, Obama and Bush, there were deportations, and you know the law was enforced, but it wasn’t like this. People are really afraid now, just really, really, afraid,” said Mr. Sanz, who is originally from Peru. “Definitely we have to just pick out the bad apples, but we can’t be treated all like that.

“My kids, they have friends that are on DACA, and they grow together and they are really afraid and concerned about that,” he said. “They say, ‘What can we do? How can we help them?’ I say the best thing you can do is go and vote.”

Exit polling found Mr. Trump was a factor for nearly half of the voters who showed up Virginia, though he was somewhat less a factor in New Jersey, where voters were also deciding on a new governor.

In both states, though, those sending anti-Trump signals easily outdistanced pro-Trump voters. The ratio was 2-to-1 in Virginia and nearly 3-to-1 in New Jersey.

Mr. Trump, taking to Twitter on Tuesday night, said Mr. Gillespie fell short because the Republican candidate tried to distance himself from the president.

“Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Mr. Trump said. “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!”

Dianne Swavely, 75, who was supporting Mr. Gillespie, doubted Mr. Trump’s impact on the race.

Donald Trump does his thing. He gets on his little phone, and he emails people and tweets people, and they listen to him because if the press is not doing their job, they are not finding the truth and printing the truth, they are going to find it some other way,” she said. “But there are fools that are believing some of the stories that are coming out. There are always foolish people in this world.”

Republicans in Virginia said Mr. Gillespie made a decision to keep distance from Mr. Trump, fearing the president would be a drag on his campaign.

But the Republican candidate did get last-minute assistance from Mr. Trump with robocalls to voters urging them to back the Republican ticket.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Northam would be a “total disaster” for Virginia, The Associated Press reported.

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