Note: This is a repost of a Medium post for my COMM 410 class at Longwood University. I’m posting it here for convenience. The other three posts for the class will be here, as well, under the COMM 410 tag. I have used higher resolution pictures of the candidates. Archives of the original are here, here, and here.
The primaries for the Virginia gubernatorial election are in one week, so most of you that keep up with political events probably already know most of what is going on this election. However, for those of you who do not follow politics that closely, here is a brief overview of who is in the race.
The candidates come from three political parties: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party.
The Democratic Party had nominated two candidates for the governorship. One of these is the current Lieutenant governor, Ralph Northam. The other is Tom Perriello, a former representative of the fifth district.
Northam is what some might call an “establishment Democrat.” In RVA Magazine, I wrote about a poll from the Washington Post and George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. This poll showed that he is less popular with the left wing of the Democratic Party, and with voting demographics that tend to lean left, than Perriello is. Northam also supports the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a project by Dominion Energy. While the majority of Dominion’s campaign donations have gone to Republicans this election cycle (for all positions, not just governor), Northam has received $101,056 from Dominion Energy since 2008, and he received $3,399 from Dominion in event costs for his 2017 gubernatorial campaign. This could help to explain his almost total silence on the pipeline. Northam has been endorsed by the incumbent Governor Terry McAuliffe, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Attorney General Mark Herring.
Tom Perriello is running on the more populist energy utilized by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the former’s presidential campaign. In fact, he has been endorsed by both Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Perriello also supports more progressive policies, such as raising the minimum wage. Perriello also opposes the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and has publicly refused to accept donations from Dominion. He is telling the truth on this, as his newest campaign finance report shows. Below is a video in which Perriello explains his opposition to the pipeline.
The Republicans have produced three candidates. They are Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner.
Gillespie is a former for chairman of the Republican National Convention. Unlike his Republican opponents, he “education and healthcare to help women avoid unplanned pregnancies,” but we have yet to see if that means abstinence-only sex education or something more in-depth. He also supports off-shore drilling and is against federal environmental regulations, especially “the regulatory assault on our coal sector.”
Corey Stewart is currently the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, and was a member of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign until he was fired in October. He is considered to be the most conservative of the Republican nominees. The “Issues” page on his campaign website says that the wants to reduce Planned Parenthood funding and an increase in regulations on abortion. None of these policies reference a method of reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies in the first place. He also supports removing the current firearms legislation and the right to carry a gun without a permit. He opposes Syrian refugee resettlement and environmental regulations. Gillespie, who he portrays as weak and a liberal sellout, is one of his favorite targets.
Senator Frank Wagner (R-7) is the last Republican on the ballot. He also has the sparsest list of policies. The policies he does specify that set him apart from the competition are “freezing tuition at all Virginia public colleges and universities by providing additional state financial aid.” He also is against environmental regulations.
Cliff Hyra is the only nominee from the Libertarian Party.
Hyra is a lawyer from Mechanicsville, and this appears to be the extent of his political experience. He was the only candidate in Virginia’s gubernatorial race to receive an A+ from the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group that seeks to promote marijuana reform. He also supports “deregulating liquor sales.” Since Hyra is a Libertarian, most of his policies are centered on a theme of deregulation.
These are the six candidates for Virginia’s gubernatorial race, and the primary elections are on June 13. The poll from the Washington Post and the Schar School is the latest poll, and it shows Perriello to have a lead over Northam. It also shows that the Republican frontrunner, Gillespie, is behind both of them in public support. The poll did not, unfortunately, include Hyra’s polling numbers. However, the Libertarians tend to attract less support than the major parties, so he is likely either somewhere near the Republicans or far behind them.