There are only two governor races this November, New Jersey and Virginia. The Democrats have a lock on New Jersey, but the one in Virginia is a contest.
Virginia went blue for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Donald Trump still polls very low in the state. However, the state is not a solidly blue state. It’s purple.
Republican Ed Gillespie is running against Democrat Ralph Northam. Currently, both U.S. Senate seats, the governor and the lieutenant governor are all Democrats. They will most likely outspend the Republicans, but money doesn’t always mean victory. Gillespie is a very dangerous candidate.
Gillespie is a tireless campaigner, hitting every county, and his volunteers have knocked on over a million doors. But, what hurts the Democrats the most is that they are lazy voters in off-year elections.
Mark Warner is a very popular senator. He had high approval ratings as governor. In 2014, every poll had him leading Gillespie by double digits in his bid to win re-election to the Senate. He only won by eight-tenths of a percentage point. This wasn’t due to voters being unhappy with Warner as much as it was to Gillespie knowing how to campaign, and that a lot of Democrats stayed home. They can’t afford to stay home this November.
Gillespie is not running away from Donald Trump, but he’s also not campaigning as a Trump guy. While Mike Pence has campaigned for him, you won’t see Trump in Virginia before election day. While he’s talking about the economy and promising tax cuts, his commercials have mostly been about the dangers of brown people in Virginia. He’s running a campaign based on fear and hate. That tactic has never failed to pull Republicans to the polls.
He’s railing against immigration and scaring people on the threat of MS-13, which is active in Northern Virginia but will probably scare well in Caroline County. He’s also running against sanctuary cities and claiming Northam is in favor of them, despite the fact there are no sanctuary cities in Virginia. That threat is about as real as the war on Christmas. But, boogie men scare Republicans.
While the suburbs of D.C. in Northern Virginia, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Roanoke, and my town of Fredericksburg will vote blue, the rural areas can push Gillespie over the top if Democrats stay home. They can’t take this race for granted. At this time, Gillespie has overcome a 13-point deficit to lead Northam by one point.
Though Gillespie may be silent on Trump, you can be sure Cheeto-in-Chief will claim a victory here as his own and say it’s a referendum. Do you really want to hear him and his sycophants crow about taking a state that voted for Hillary Clinton? I don’t.
Gillespie has been a political operative for George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. Most of his experience has been as a lobbyist. His clients have included Anthem, AT&T, Bank of America, Microsoft (each company having state contracts in Virginia), and Enron. While Enron was defrauding employees and shareholders billions in pensions and stock prices, the company gave Gillespie’s lobbying firm over a million dollars to lobby the Department of Energy and the president to resist efforts to re-regulate the western electricity market during the California Electricity Crisis.
Gillespie has made millions from lobbying. He’ll work on issues that favor those corporations if he wins the governorship. You can bet after he’s governor that he’ll resume lobbying and collect money from those firms. His interests are not our interests, unless you’re really excited about helping this millionaire become a billionaire.
Gillespie’s interests have always been with big corporations, even those who commit fraud. What would make anyone think he cares about the poor or middle class?
We can’t give Donald Trump another ally who wants to erase democracy and install fascism. We can’t award a man for running a campaign based on hate and fear. You can’t stay home.
You need to get out and vote on November 7, and show Trump and his sycophants that Virginia says no to his agenda, racism, nationalism, and fascism. We need to tell Trump Virginia is for lovers and not the haters.