The vaunted Americans For Prosperity ground game is hard at work in early August, and with narrowing polls encouraging Republican heavy hitters to throw cash at Gillespie, embattled Democratic nominee Ralph Northam finds himself forced to do the one thing he shouldn’t be doing right now — burning money on television ads.

More from Dave Ress over at the Daily Press’ Shad Plank Blog:

In case you don’t know where the conservative Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group founded by billionaire David Koch, stands on the Virginia gubernatorial election, we can tell you it is not for Ralph Northam. 

. . .

It adds up to $278,793 to let us know who it is that Americans for Prosperty, with the help of a California ad agency, is against. 

And as a campaign effort, is proof positive that money can’t buy you love.

…but it can sure as heck buy you a ground game.

Meanwhile, Northam realizes he has a name ID problem, and while AFP and other groups are blasting Northam in the electorate, Northam’s comparatively low name ID vs. Gillespie means he has to get out and identify himself before he is defined by his detractors — meaning that Northam has to burn precious cash reserves in an effort to mollify Democratic donors looking to New Jersey as a safer bet.

Not a bad advertisement, but there are several glaring tells: expanding healthcare (not Medicare), and worst of all, hiding the candidate himself until the very tail end of the advertisement — an odd play, until you consider that Northam’s campaign has been reticent to put him on stage with his Republican opposition for fear of gaffes and the offending Virginian accent… which for those who followed the Kaine-Kilgore ’05 race, the Democrats made a considerable effort to offend just about everyone west of Roanoke by picking on the GOP nominee’s family ties.

Backing out of the scrum entirely and seeing the field for what it is, the Republicans seem to be steamrolling along with predictable clarity and a smidgen of confidence.  Conversely, Democrats seem to be in disarray, lacking confidence in their gubernatorial nominee’s ability to lead the ticket while burning through precious cash reserves to buck up the ticket.

That AFP is dropping cash into a battlefield seat to tip those scales is yet another sign that Republicans see something Democrats don’t.