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The Ralph Northam campaign left a black Democratic candidate off a mailer.

Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Justin Fairfax, the party’s candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, did not appear on some Northam election materials distributed to households in northern Virginia. According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Northam campaign made the decision to accommodate the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), which opposes Fairfax’s candidacy because of his position on two planned pipeline projects in the state:

Two controversial natural gas pipelines, the EQT Midstream Partners’ Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Dominion Energy-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline, ... are proposed to cross Virginia. Fairfax is among the environmentalist Democratic base in Virginia that’s opposed to the pipelines. Northam does not oppose the pipelines. The union also has endorsed [Attorney General Mark] Herring, according to Herring spokesman Adam Zuckerman.

In a statement to the Times-Dispatch, Northam spokesman David Turner justified the decision by saying the mailers “constituted less than 0.5 percent of the literature printed” and that the campaign created them specifically for LIUNA to use on its canvassing efforts. But this isn’t a very persuasive explanation. Northam is locked in a tight contest with Republican Ed Gillespie, who has made race a central focus of his campaign. Removing a black candidate on the party’s slate from mailers sends a terrible message to voters, especially people of color.

Further, there’s bipartisan opposition to the construction of both the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The Mountain Valley Pipeline would, according to a report from FTI Consulting, create only 34 permanent jobs in the state; the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would create only 39. As is typical for energy projects, most jobs created by pipeline construction would be temporary, leaving no lasting economic benefit to the communities crossed by either pipeline.

But as The Washington Post reported in May, Northam has received $22,000 from Dominion Energy, the corporation behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline; a sum significantly higher than Dominion’s $8,000 donation to the Gillespie campaign. Northam has also received millions more from environmental groups—that just hasn’t been enough to convince him to oppose the pipeline projects, or to help him build the backbone he needs to resist LIUNA. Fairfax deserved better from the Northam campaign.