A large flashpoint recently has been the debate over monuments to the Confederacy in public spaces. One of the most flamboyant voices in this debate was Corey Stewart before he came in second place in the Republican primary. Now he has been replaced by Ed Gillespie, a more establishment candidate. Still, the ever-present debate over Confederate monuments, the occasional outcry from voices in the communities, and the increasing presence of white nationalists in Charlottesville protesting their removal makes this worth looking into.
Gillespie was a lot quieter than Corey Stewart about Confederate statues in the primary, earning him the nickname “Establishment Ed” by Stewart. Stewart obviously shook up a lot of the Virginia political system, because he only lost 1.2% of the vote and almost beat Gillespie, as I mentioned in one of my earlier blog posts. There were some who wondered before the primary election if his embrace of neo-Confederate ideals might hurt his chances. You can see a video here of Stewart talking about the flag of the Confederacy at a ball in Danville:
Gillespie’s personal stance on the issue was that the statues should not be removed, but that this was a matter for the states to have the final say on. Stewart managed to twist this into saying that Gillespie supported the removal of the Civil War statues, as you can see in this video he shot on Monument Avenue in Richmond:
Northam has a position that is similar to Gillespie’s; he believes that the decision to remove or keep Confederate monuments should be an issue left to individual localities. However, he said that he supported the approach that Charlottesville took, which was to let Stewart have his say at his rally and see where it went. This is strikingly different compared to where Perriello was on the matter.
Perriello instead wanted to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville entirely. This is much more radical than what Northam wants, and provides a stark contrast between him and the more establishment, moderate Democrat victor.
As far as the actual removal goes, I do not think it will actually happen anytime soon, at least not in Virginia. If Perriello had won the Democratic primary election, then things might have been a little different.