Gillespie Attacks Warner Over Redskins Name Change

Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for a Virginia Senate seat up against incumbent Democrat Mark Warner has brought the Redskins name change debate into the race for that seat. Virginia has Redskins practice facilities in Ashburn and outside of Richmond and is the "home" team for Northern Virginia and arguable the entire state.

In a campaign ad, Gillespie calls out Warner for not taking a stand on a bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), that would eliminate the NFL's tax-exempt status unless the league takes action to force Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the name of the team, which some Native Americans and a variety of primarily Democratic legislators and officials have said they find offensive.

The ad asks why Warner won't say where he stands on the question of the name change, while Gillespie, smiling, says he will answer the question. "I'll oppose the anti-Redskins bill. Let's focus on creating jobs, raising take-home pay and making our nation safer, and let the Redskins handle what to call their team."

"Down double digits, late in the fourth quarter, the Gillespie campaign threw an incomplete Hail Mary," said Warner campaign spokesman David Turner. "Redskins fans know that Senator Warner didn't join any efforts to force a name change."

An Oct. 20-23 CBS/NYT/YouGov poll has Warner up by 10 percentage points, while a number of others over the past three-four weeks have him up by at least that much.

The Redskins already have a Virginia Senate campaign connection. Bruce Allen, the president and general manager of the team, is the brother of George Allen, the former Senator who lost a reelection bid following an alleged racist name — the now infamous "macaca" remark — uttered during a campaign stop. The Allens' late father, George, was the coach of the team.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.