Ed zgilledpie is the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia.

Thomas Edsall traces the sad trajectory of Gillespie’s career in politics. There was a time when he was a moderate, with reasonable positions on hot-button issues like immigration. But as a candidate for governor, he fought and barely won a primary against a rabid right winger. Post-primary, he has turned into the guy he beat.

For most of his career, he was known as the consummate Republican lobbyist in Washington. In fact, writes Edsall, “It would be hard to find a better example of the “corrupt Washington establishment” that President Trump calls “the swamp” than Ed Gillespie.” Now he has been Trumpified, turned into a Tea Party extremist.

“Gillespie also adopted Trump’s tactics. In September, he began to run a series of attack ads against his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, that accused Northam of protecting illegal immigrant gang members.

“Northam is a physician, a soft-spoken native of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute. He served eight years as a doctor in the Army, including during Operation Desert Storm, rising to the rank of major. He now has a practice in pediatric neurology in Norfolk and volunteers as a medical director for the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth, where he cares for terminally ill children.”

The big issue in the election is race. Current Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights to convicted felons who had paid their debt to society. Gillespie and his allies are vocally opposed. About half of those who regained their right to vote are African Americans, and they are a threat to Republicans.

Not surprisingly, Gillespie has run racially charged, divisive, scare-mongering ads against Northam.

If Gillespie wins, it will demonstrate that Trumpism defines the Republican Party.

If Northam wins, it will be a huge setback for Trump and his overtly racist, nationalist, crude, xenophobic brand of politics.