5 Things to Know About the Virginia Governor Primary
On Tuesday, voters in Virginia will select the Republican and Democratic Party candidates for the governor election in November. The primary election in each party seems to echo the insurgent versus establishment narrative so powerful in 2016.
Here are five things to know about the elections.
1. The Republicans.
Ed Gillespie, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, is the Republican favorite. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2014, narrowly losing to incumbent Senator Mark Warner. But the margin by which Gillespie lost — 0.8 percent — was tiny compared to the tremendous defeat the polls predicted. Gillespie's concession speech was remarkably happy, and Republicans learned that he was a strong political contender against Democrats.
Gillespie enjoys broad endorsements from the vast majority of Virginia's state delegates but also from national figures like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a close ally of Donald Trump, has endorsed him.
Gillespie's main challenger is Corey Stewart, chairman of a board of county supervisors, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, and Donald Trump's campaign chairman in Virginia last year. He is widely considered the anti-establishment Trump-style candidate, and he lacks the kind of endorsements that have surrounded Gillespie.
State Senator Frank Wagner is the only sitting office-holder running in the Republican primary. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a Navy veteran, Wagner emphasized the area of Hampton Roads, claiming that he alone could win the state-wide race in November.
The Republican primary also has a black candidate, Bishop Emmanuel Peter, who is running to prioritize safety and family values. Peter claims not only to support the Second Amendment, but also to back "commonsense gun laws (background check)."