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Virginia Governor’s Election: All About Trump and Obama

Republican Ed Gillespie (R) and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) might be debating abortion and Confederate Civil War statutes in advance of Virginia’s November gubernatorial election, but as far as national political leaders and pundits are concerned this race is all about Donald Trump.

They also think the results could be harbingers of the nation’s 2018 midterm elections.

As a result, political action committees have invested millions of dollars from outside Virginia in the election to replace Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who can’t run for re-election.

There is no doubt the camps of Gillespie and Northam see the purple state of Virginia in colors of red and blue.

Northam has campaigned as a champion of abortion rights.

His opponent, Republican Ed Gillespie, has said he wants abortion banned except in cases of rape, incest and when the procedure is needed to save the mother’s life.

“I would like to see abortion be banned because I think it is a taking of an innocent human life,” Gillespie said at a candidates’ forum before the June GOP primary. “It is not the law of the land today.”

Republicans run the Virginia Legislature, and they have consistently tried to make it tougher for women to get abortions. But Democratic Gov. McAuliffe has vetoed GOP-backed bills to defund Planned Parenthood and restrict abortions.

If Gillespie wins, pro-life forces are confident he will tear down the “brick wall” that McAuliffe set up to protect women’s reproductive rights.

But if Northam wins, Don Blake, president of the Virginia Christian Alliance, told the Washington Post he fears the worst.

“Eight years of consecutive Democrat, anti-life leadership,” Blake said, “and it would be very difficult to retract any of that and retain the ground we lose.”

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro Choice Virginia, told the Post she was just as adamant about the necessity of a Northam victory.

“We need someone who is unwavering,” Keene said. “We have seen that happen before where our rights could be put on the table, on the negotiating block. We cannot tolerate that anymore.”

Gillespie and Northam are also on opposite sides of the Confederate statues debate.

“I believe that decisions about historical statues are best made at the local level, but they should stay and be placed in historical context,” Gillespie said in a statement released after August’s deadly protest over the fate of a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va.

“Our history is our history,” Gillespie added.

Northam has a different view of remembering Virginia’s history.

He said in a statement that Virginia’s Civil War statues should be taken down and taken to museums.

“We should also do more to elevate the parts of our history that have all too often been underrepresented,” Northam said. “That means memorializing civil rights advocates like Barbara Johns and Oliver Hill, who helped move our commonwealth closer towards equality.”