By KELLY EMMRICH
In less than a week, Virginia will have the United States’ most consequential election since the presidential election. Virginia has been a swing state since 2004, voting Republican in ten consecutive presidential elections from 1968 to 2004. In the presidential election Hillary Clinton won by five percent in Virginia, so the outcome of this election will decide if the state is in favor of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. In this upcoming gubernatorial election, there are three candidates.
Republican Ed Gillespie is from Fairfax, Virginia. He previously served as chair of the Republican National Committee and was an adviser to former President George W. Bush. His main focus is to improve the state’s economy. Gillespie proposes cutting state income tax rates by 10 percent, which he said would invigorate the economy and ultimately put more tax revenue in the state treasury. He would phase in the cuts over three years. Another campaign promise is to dismantle current Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan of restoring full rights to felons once they complete their sentences. Gillespie plans to create a more rigorous screening process for felons to enter back into society after their sentences are served.
The Democratic candidate, Ralph Northam is from Norfolk, Virginia. His primary focus is fighting for issues that Virginians care about. He wants to help make safe communities free from the threat of gun violence, good-paying jobs, a world-class education, access to affordable health care and clean air and water. He is also focused on making Virginia an open and welcoming place.
“We live in a very diverse society and that means that we need to be inclusive,” said Northam in an interview with WTOP. “Our light will be on, our door is open.”
Northam is also invested in continuing the practice of current Gov. Terry McAuliffe to restore the rights of felons as they complete their sentences. He supports making restoration automatic. “We’re very proud we’ve restored the rights of over 156,000 Virginians,” he said in the WTOP interview. “We’re all human, and when someone makes a mistake and has paid back their time, the best thing that we can do to help them get back with their families, get back into the workforce, help with their self-esteem, is to restore their voting rights.”
The last candidate is Libertarian Cliff Hyra. He is from Mechanicsville, Virginia. His main goal is cutting down jail time for drug related crimes. A lot of his policies are about drugs, and as a third party candidate, he has such a low chance of winning.
Honestly, even though Gillespie is pretty smart and is most at home when talking about policies, he is still a symbol for the Trumpian rhetoric simply because Trump endorsed him in a Tweet. A lot of college students on this campus agree that we do not want a Governor that has anything to do with the Trump administration. We know that a Gillespie win on Nov. 7 would be a double victory for Republicans. They would have the control of another swing-state’s governor’s mansion in the 2020 presidential election, which is an election that Trump is already campaigning for.
This is not to say that you should vote Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian. Vote based on where you want to see this country going. Vote based on your own personal beliefs. Because while the presidential election was important, local government is deciding all of the laws not granted to the federal government, and some of these laws affect us more directly.