I hate press releases, and election night press releases are a special breed of terrible. They are often a string of cliches and manicured facts in search of a sucker to print them. And the Republican National Committee release on Tuesday night after Virginia’s gubernatorial primaries only reinforced my opinion.
“I would like to congratulate Ed Gillespie on securing the Republican nomination and moving one step closer towards becoming Virginia’s next governor,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel in a statement emailed to reporters at 10:46 p.m. Tuesday.
The first line is innocent enough. Gillespie starts the general election race as an underdog against Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (the race is rated Leans Democratic by Inside Elections), but by becoming the GOP nominee and thanks to the calendar moving forward, Gillespie is theoretically “one step closer” to becoming governor.
That’s when the release veers from nonfiction to fiction.
“Today’s primary concludes a nasty race to the left by Democrats, while Virginia Republicans emerge unified and ready to win. Virginia’s economy has been suffering for too long,” McDaniel continued.
First of all, the release was sent after Prince William County Supervisor and Donald Trump supporter Corey Stewart (who lost narrowly to Gillespie in the primary) told supporters, “There is one word you will never hear from me, and that’s ‘unity,’” as reported by The Washington Post. That is the opposite of the “emerge unified” scene McDaniel described.
In comparison, the Democrats’ “nasty race,” as described by McDaniel, ended with a tweet by former Rep. Tom Perriello: “Congratulations to @RalphNortham. Let’s go win this thing — united. Let’s take back the House and ensure VA remains a firewall against hate.” That tweet was sent two hours before the RNC release, which was probably drafted two months ago.
I know there is an urge (and sometimes a mandate) on both sides of the aisle to “win the day” and never miss an opportunity to get a hit and push a message. But press releases increasingly feel like a relic of the past, in part, because they are too often void of any useful information.