GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie released the vile ad — which depicts heavily tattooed Latino gang members overlaid with the words "Kill, Rape, Control" — to attack his Democratic opponent Ralph Northam for opposing a sanctuary city ban.

In this year’s Virginia gubernatorial race, Republican candidate and former RNC chair Ed Gillespie is often portrayed as a gentlemanly, clean alternative to the ugliness of Donald Trump.

But Gillespie, who veered hard right after his narrow primary victory over neo-Confederate Corey Stewart, has all of Trump’s racist instincts, as laid bare in a disgusting new attack ad against Democratic candidate Ralph Northam.

The ad attacks Northam for casting a vote against a bill that would have banned cities in Virginia from adopting “sanctuary” policies that prevent local authorities from demanding people prove their citizenship or extend detentions for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In a truly atrocious move, the ad connects Northam’s vote to violence from the El Salvadoran MS-13 street gang, while flashing menacing images of tattooed Latin gang members (who are not actually even MS-13) overlaid with the words, “Kill, Rape, Control.”

In addition to its unabashed racism, the ad’s underlying implication is simply false.

There is zero evidence sanctuary cities increase crime, and evidence suggests they actually increase crime reporting rates, by improving local trust in police. Besides, there aren’t even any sanctuary cities in Virginia in the first place.

This ad has strong echoes of the infamous Willie Horton ad from the 1988 presidential election, which attacked Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis as being soft on crime after a black convict raped a woman while out on furlough as part of a program Dukakis supported.

Nor is this unique. All year, Republicans in Virginia have been steadily marching toward overt white supremacy, with Gillespie fundraising off of Confederate statues in the wake of the Charlottesville neo-Nazi riot, and the party’s Twitter account essentially calling Northam a race traitor.

The GOP is clearly desperate to win Virginia, and — surely thanks, at least in part, to Trump — they believe the answer is to stoke racial bias and bigotry. Voters must not reward this behavior.