Published On: Thu, May 18th, 2017

Virgina gubernatorial race: Democrats battle over gun control to gain edge and face Republican Ed Gillepsie

Virginia and New Jersey are the only states with gubernatorial contests this year, and Virginia doesn’t cap campaign contributions or spending, so expect a ton of money to be spent this year as Terry McAuliffe’s term as Virginia governor comes to an end.

Despite the rhetoric, there doesn’t appear to be a negative effect from the Trump presidencies as Republican Ed Gillepsie seems primed to be the GOP candidate, polling favorably against any of the Democratic rivals, who are battling over liberal and progressive stances.

For example, during a recent meet-and-greet with candidate Tom Perriello at Roanoke College, gun control activists accused the former congressman over his “mixed record” as Catherine Koebel, founder of the Blue Ridge Coalition Against Gun Violence and a supporter of Perriello opponent Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, told him she does not trust him.

“I personally came here today because I’m worried,” she said according to the Roanoke Times. “I’m worried that I’m going to have a hard time trusting you during this primary.”

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He has since campaigned for universal background checks and labeled the NRA a “nut-job extremist organization.”

“I appreciate where you’re coming from, but if you think we haven’t pissed off the NRA, you haven’t been listening,” Perriello told Koebel at the campaign event.

Another candidate is Ralph Northam and he claims he’s been solid anti-gun all along.

“I’ve got a D- grade with the NRA,” Northam told the Times. “That should tell people where I stand on responsible gun ownership and what I’ve advocated for since I’ve been in public service for the past 10 years.”

Republicans Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart, and Frank Wagner have all received A ratings from the NRA.

The best polling data came in March as Wason Center poll showed a tied race for the Democratic nomination and Gillespie far ahead in the Republican primary. Gillespie is backed by 38 percent of Republican-leaning voters, compared to Stewart’s 11 percent and Wagner’s 10 percent.

Trump’s perceived deep unpopularity in the commonwealth isn’t necessarily boosting Democrats in the governor’s race. Just 37 percent of voters polled approve of the president’s performance while 59 percent disapprove.

Gillespie is ahead of both Northam and Perriello among independents by a margin of 40 percent to 30 percent, according to the survey. The Wason Center poll found that 48 percent of voters preferred a generic Democratic candidate for their district, compared to 41 percent who preferred a Republican.

“I can’t see evidence yet that voters’ views on Trump are dragging Gillespie down,” said Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center. “Voters can have a really negative view of Donald Trump right now and not be leaking their views to gubernatorial races that are months and months down the line.”

Hillary Clinton beat Trump in the 2016 Election by 5%.

McAuliffe has been a headline grabbing progressive governor, joining the challenges against Trump’s immigration executive order, restoring voter rights to felons and vetoed the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

The primary election will take place on June 13.


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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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