A View of the 2017 Governor’s Election in Virginia

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Posted by Madeline Head 

It is time to start really looking into Virginia’s gubernatorial election. The race is between GOP leader Ed Gillespie and Democrat Dr. Ralph Northam. This is the bellwether election by which all future elections will be compared to under the Trump tenure.


This will explain what Virginians are thinking during the mid-term elections after President Trump’s inauguration. For all incumbents, this will mark the start of a true anti-Trump opposition or a continued united show of support for our current President.


The top issues for Virginia voters are the following:


  1. Health care / 28%
  2. The economy / 26%
  3. Education / 19%
  4. Illegal immigration / 10%
  5. The environment / 4%
  6. Confederate monuments / 3 %
  7. Something else / 9%
  8. No opinion / 2%


Knowing this we should get to know our candidates:


The GOP leader, Ed Gillespie, is currently chasing front-runner Dr. Northam in the polls by 13 points. Why is this you may ask? There are reasons to believe that candidate Gillespie is having problems connecting with his constituents. Candidate Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has become increasingly more antagonistic towards issues he used to avoid. The GOP leader continues to rely on Trump supporters but this has posed a problem to his candidacy:


“Roughly 6 in 10 Virginia likely voters disapprove of his (President Trumps) performance as president, and more than 8 in 10 Trump detractors support Northam,” – Gregory S. Schneider and Scott Clement. This continues to hurt candidate Gillespie because nearly 7 in 10 likely voters said they feel that candidate Gillespie supports President Trump. We now know for certain that President Trump has endorsed Gillespie from a tweet sent out late Thursday night. Now we wait to see what candidate Gillespie will do. Will he ignore the endorsement or will he have President Trump campaign for him for the final four weeks? How will candidate Gillespie continue to campaign without alienating Trump supporters or moderate Republicans?


The tweet, Thursday night, not only endorsed Gillespie but also attacked Northham by saying, “Ralph Northam, who is running for Governor of Virginia, is fighting for the violent MS – 13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities”. As mentioned above, 6 in 10 Virginia likely voters disapprove of President Trump’s performance, this tweet will just further make sure that candidate Gillespie will have problems connecting with all of his constituents.


The tweet comes straight out of a candidate Gillespie endorsed add, attacking Dr. Northam over a pre-emptive vote to not ban sanctuary cities, which Virginia does not have. Northam has been very direct with his feelings towards the President. Dr. Northam went so far as to call President Trump a “narcissistic maniac” during the primary. More recently Northam said,


“So if Donald Trump is helping Virginia, I’ll work with him. But Donald Trump proposed cutting Virginia’s school funding, rolling back our clean air and water protections, and taking away healthcare from thousands of Virginians. …I’ve stood up to Donald Trump on all of it. Ed Gillespie refuses to stand up to him at all.”


Do you feel Northam is alienating any potential Virginia voters, besides Trump supporters? Will Dr. Northam be able to win the independent and undecided vote so he can secure this win?



This bellwether election between candidates Gillespie and Dr. Northam is going to have the entire nation watching and waiting. What does this mean for us, Virginia? This means we have a significant amount of responsibility to educate ourselves and choose the appropriate candidate. At such an uncertain time in politics, it is imperative we hold each other accountable and take this completely and utterly seriously. This election will send a message to D.C. one way or another.



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