If you live in Virginia and don't know much about the candidates for governor, you need to educate yourself NOW.
The last day to register to vote in Virginia is Monday, Oct. 16 and Election Day is Nov. 7.
The race between Democratic candidate Ralph Northam and Republican candidate Ed Gillespie is being watched across the country because it is seen as an early sign of whether or not voters will reelect President Donald Trump and embrace similar candidates. Virginia is one of only two states that have off-year governor's races in November.
The race is so important that former President Barack Obama will campaign for Northam in Richmond on Thursday. Trump is considering campaigning for Gillespie, a former chairman on Trump's Virginia campaign told The Washington Post.
Earlier this month, Trump backed Gillespie on Twitter, writing, “Ralph Northam, who is running for Governor of Virginia, is fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities. Vote Ed Gillespie!”
Here are three ways Virginia's new governor could change your life:
Gillespie says that as governor he would ban abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s health is at risk.
"As governor, I would like to see abortion banned because I think it is a taking of an innocent human life,” he said at a candidates' forum in April.
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Northam says he would protect access to safe and legal abortions. It’s essential to have a Democrat as governor to “fight for women's access to reproductive health care in an unwavering manner," he said earlier this year.
Student Loans and Education
Ralph Northam has pledged to increase state support for public colleges and universities. In his higher education plan, he outlines a bill of rights for student borrowers that would increase transparency for students when they take out loans.
Gillespie has focused his efforts on expanding Virginia’s charter school system. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ family donated more than $100,000 to his campaign, The Washington Post reported.
Criminal Justice Reform
Gillespie and Northam have similar plans for reforming the criminal justice system in Virginia. Both candidates want to loosen marijuana laws, raise the state’s larceny threshold and end driver’s license suspensions as a punishment for unpaid court costs.
Northam wants to decriminalize marijuana possession, his campaign website says.
At an appearance in September, Gillespie proposed a "three strikes and you're in" program that would end criminal charges for simple marijuana possession for a person's first two offense, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.