What to Know
- Virginians will vote in primary elections for both Democrats and Republicans on June 13.
- The nominees for each party will vie to replace Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
- The Virginia governor's race is one of only two in the country in 2017; the other is in New Jersey.
Two Democrats and three Republicans are vying to be Virginia's next governor in the state's primary June 13.
So where do they stand on the issues most important in the Old Dominion?
We asked Republicans Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner, as well as Democrats Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello, to make their positions clear.
See what they said below.
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Perriello suggested cutting spending, closing tax loopholes used by large companies, and raising taxes on those earning more than $1 million each year (his personal income tax hike would actually start with those making $500,000 per year). By investing in the middle class, “everybody wins,” he said. He’d also raise taxes on some corporations.
Northam proposed training rural Virginians in science, technology, arts and math (STEAM) because “the economy isn’t working for everyone,” he said.
Gillespie recommended decreasing individual income tax rates by 10 percent “across the board.” He’d grow small businesses by lowering tax rates “responsibly” over three years, he said.
Stewart suggested cutting overall spending in Virginia by 3.8 percent in the first year, which he said would enable Virginia to reduce the top marginal income tax rate to 4.75 percent. “You have to cut spending,” he said.
Wagner emphasized the need for skilled candidates to fill modern job openings. Career and technical education, not liberal arts programs, will help businesses “fill the jobs we have today,” he said.
Gillespie favors “more options” for parents with students in secondary schools, including education savings accounts and more public charter schools. As for higher education, Gillespie would give strict instructions to each university’s board of visitors to “hold down costs,” he said.
Schools need more local control, Stewart said. Higher education should center on career and technical training “where there are actually jobs,” he said. “We’ve got to get away from this idea that every child has to go out and get a four year degree from a college,” he said.
Wagner pitched providing a technical education path in K-12 schools. As for higher education, he’d “sign a letter to each university president” saying he’s going to cap tuition, he said.
Northam’s priority at the K-12 level would be raising teacher wages. At the college level, he proposed offering Virginians two free years of community college with the “understanding they will give one year back to public service.”
Perriello proposed reshaping K-12 into P-14, adding one year of universal pre-K on the front end and two years of career and technical training or a “pathway into community college” on the back end. The goal: move more people into the middle class.
The economy won’t grow without a bigger investment in transportation, Wagner said. His focus would be putting “more money into transportation.” Lawmakers must look at further increasing the gas tax, he said.
Gillespie said congestion relief and Northern Virginia should be the main priorities. He advised mimicking Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to separate federal and state dollars into separate accounts for “state spending in a more timely manner,” he said.
Tax increases and additional tolling “don’t work,” Stewart said. He recommended widening I-95, I-66 and Route 1 and spending less on heavy rail.
Perriello proposed “bringing the parties together” and investing in infrastructure in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond. A permanent change in infrastructure spending will “create real job growth,” he said.
Northern Virginia hasn’t received as much tax revenue since gas prices have dropped. Since the tax is tied to gas prices, implementing a floor on the regional gas tax “needs to be done,” Northam said. Tolls also must be minimized so everyone can use public transit, roads and interstates, he said.
Northam approves of the pipeline as long as it is constructed with the environment in mind and accounts for the “property owner’s rights.”
The jobs of the future are in “distributed energy” Perriello said, and Virginians are being “choked out” of those jobs because of energy monopolies. He firmly opposes the construction of the pipeline.
Stewart said the pipeline gives Dominion Energy “too much power.” They are “trampling on property rights of Virginians across the state,” he said.
Wagner is “absolutely supportive of it” it because it’s a “cheap source” of natural gas, which is a “critical component” of manufacturing processes.
Gillespie backs the construction of the Dominion Pipeline because affordable and reliable energy will “foster greater economic growth.”
Northam describes himself as a longtime supporter of NARAL during his decade in public office and says it’s essential to have a Democrat as governor to “fight for women access to reproductive health care in an unwavering manner.”
Perriello would fight for a woman’s right to choose, he said, and cited universal contraception access as a potential opportunity for bipartisan “common ground.”
Stewart believes “life begins at conception” and would sign a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks without exception, he said.
Gillespie said “we need to protect innocent human life,” and is opposed to abortion with the exception of danger to life of the mother, rape or incest.
Wagner feels “fairly strongly” about fetal pain and wants legislation to block abortion once a fetus feels pain.
Wagner agrees with the president’s foreign policy, specifically his response to a recent chemical attack in Syria.
Stewart “thinks he’s been doing great” despite the “obstacles” placed in his way “deliberately,” he said.
President Trump’s commitment to stopping the federal government’s “long standing assault on our coal sector” will be “helpful” to Virginia workers, Gillespie said. He also says Trump’s policies will mean more shipbuilding, which will help the Hampton Roads area.
Perriello called the president’s “blase attitude” toward national security “scary” in a state where many individuals serve in uniform, intelligence or diplomacy.
The president is a “dangerous man,” whose policies threaten health care, environmental issues and affordable housing, Northam said.