AP

Ralph Northam, a Democrat running for governor in Virginia, reversed his position on sanctuary cities in an interview released Wednesday.

Previously Northam, who is Virginia’s current lieutenant governor, said he opposed sanctuary cities during a debate with Republican candidate Ed Gillespie; he declined to say whether he would sign legislation banning them, however.

During an interview with Norfolk TV station WAVY, Northam said he would indeed sign a bill banning sanctuary cities in the state.“If that bill comes to my desk, I sure will,” Northam said. “I’ve always been opposed to sanctuary cities.” Referring to Gillespie, who has made banning sanctuary cities his campaign’s central issue, Northam said, “He knows that.”

Gillespie, though, effectively coerced Northam into supporting a sanctuary city ban when his campaign released a horrifically racist ad about MS-13 in September. “Ralph Northam’s Policies Are Dangerous,” was the ad’s title. “MS-13 is a menace, yet Ralph Northam voted in favor of sanctuary cities that let dangerous illegal immigrants back on the street, increasing the threat of MS-13,” it went on to say.

As the Richmond Times Dispatch noted, Northam voted against a bill last year that would preemptively ban sanctuary cities at the local level in Virginia — that bill was eventually vetoed by current Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Presently, there are no cities or counties in the state with sanctuary city laws on the books. Northam also told the Dispatch if he won the election and Virginia’s senate passed a similar bill when no municipalities had approved sanctuary city initiatives, he would again veto the legislation.

Advertisement

Gillespie’s campaign released a predictably snide statement in response to Northam’s new position. “I sincerely hope that this change of heart is real,” the statement read. “Given his track record on this issue, I’m not sure where the Lieutenant Governor stands. I hope in the days ahead he will reiterate what he said to WAVY-TV, and stand by it.”

You can watch the brief clip of Northam’s comments below: