Ed Gillespie V. Ralph Northam: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For 2017 Virginia Governor's Race

Ed Gillespie V. Ralph Northam: Nonpartisan Candidate Guide For 2017 Virginia Governor's Race
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This guide outlines the positions of Virginia’s 2017 Republican and Democratic Governor candidates. For printable PDF and mobile versions, see campuselect.org/guides.html.

To volunteer, visit edforvirginia.com or ralphnortham.com

Other gubernatorial candidates include Cliff Hyra (Libertarian). Due to limited space, we can’t include his responses, but you can learn about him or volunteer at cliffhyra.com


Abortion: Should abortion be highly restricted?

Northam: No. Supports expanded access to contraception and continued access to abortion.

Climate Change: Believe that human activity is the major factor driving climate change? Support participation in U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states committed to climate change action?

Gillespie: Acknowledges some role, but open to skeptics. [From The Hill: "I believe there is ample scientific evidence that contributes to climate change but I’m not entirely dismissive of those who have a different point of view.”] Supported withdrawing from Paris Climate Change accord, opposes joining US Climate Alliance. No mention of climate in his plan to deal with recurring flooding issues.

Northam: Yes. Condemned withdrawal from Paris accord and supports participating in U.S. Climate Alliance.

Climate Change: Support participation in interstate initiative to limit levels of greenhouse gases by putting a price on carbon?

Gillespie: No. Calls it "job-killing and cost-increasing."

Northam: Yes. Supports Virginia's participation in the initiative.

Confederate Statues: Remove from public spaces?

Gillespie: Local decision, but believes statues should remain and “be placed in historical context.”

Northam: Local decision, but will advocate for statues to be removed from public spaces & placed in museums.

Education: Increase funding for K-12 education?

Gillespie: Supports increasing teacher pay, but no clear statement on school funding. "Spending more money on education does not equate with better outcomes."

Northam: Yes. Also invest in early childhood education.

Education: Expand publicly funded charter schools?

Gillespie: Yes. Views as vehicle for parental choice. Also supports education savings accounts to pay for private schools.

Northam: No. Uphold VA's current strict regulations. Focus on fully funding neighborhood public schools and working to eliminate disparities.

Education: Increase state funding for higher education?

Gillespie: Unclear on increased funding. Supports expanding online options to hold down costs and possibly limit percentage `of out-of-state students

Northam: Increase state funding. Also supports free community college in areas of need like cybersecurity, computer/IT, healthcare, early childhood education, & construction trades, with year of public service.

Elections: Support nonpartisan redistricting to address charges of partisan gerrymandering?

Northam: Yes. Calls for gubernatorial candidates to commit to it.

Gay Rights: Support gay marriage?

Gillespie: Personally opposed. States he’ll enforce the law while “protecting religious freedoms.”

Northam: Yes

Gay Rights: Should transgender individuals have the right to use public bathrooms of their choice?

Gillespie: No. “It isn’t about bathrooms alone.” Leave to parents and local school boards rather than state or federal government.

Northam: Yes

Gun Control: Enact more restrictive gun control legislation?

Gillespie: No

Northam: Yes. Supports background checks, and bans on assault weapons, guns in bars, and concealed carry without a permit.

Healthcare: Support or Repeal ACA, aka Obamacare? Accept ACA's Medicaid expansion leading to 400,000 more low-income people being eligible?

Gillespie: “Still reviewing” Republican ACA repeal plan. Opposes Medicaid expansion.

Northam: Opposes Republican ACA repeal plan. Favors Medicaid expansion

Immigration: How to respond to America’s 11 million undocumented residents, including "DACA" recipients or "Dreamers," who grew up in the US after being brought here as children.

Gillespie: Will fully cooperate with Trump administration on enforcement measures. Opposes earned path to citizenship, in-state tuition for DACA recipients.

Northam: "Make sure ICE isn't overstepping bounds." Supports drivers licenses for illegal immigrants and continued support for DACA recipients including in-state tuition. Opposes travel ban.

Marijuana: Decriminalize marijuana?

Gillespie: No, would reconsider penalties.

Northam: Yes, decriminalize.

Minimum Wage: Raise the minimum wage?

Gillespie: No

Northam: Yes, phase in to $15/hour.

President Trump: Response to President Trump's actions and policies?

Gillespie: Doesn't always agree with President Trump, but believes Northam's attacks on him, like calling his campaign "the resistance," will hurt state's ability to receive federal support.

Northam: Considers President Trump "a dangerous man" who "lacks empathy" and "has difficulty telling the truth." Would continue to challenge his policies.

Renewable Energy: Support government subsidies for renewable energy?

Gillespie: No. Supports promoting variety of energy approaches and modernizing electrical grid.

Northam: Yes. Prioritize clean energy innovation.

Taxes: Increase taxes on corporations and/or high-income individuals to pay for public services?

Gillespie: No. Supports across-the-board 10% income tax cut.

Northam: Unclear. Would eliminate tax on food and have commission look at making tax code "more progressive," but said taxes on wealthy wouldn't pass the legislature.

Voting Rights: Support Gov. McAuliffe's restoration of voting rights to ex-felons who've completed parole and probation?

Gillespie: No. Considers it an "abuse of executive power."

Northam: Yes

Voting Rights: Support stricter voting rules such as voter ID requirements or reduced registration times, even if they prevent some people from voting?

Gillespie: Yes

Northam: No


Created by the Campus Election Engagement Project, a non-partisan effort to help college and university administrators, faculty, and student leaders engage their schools in the election. Key sites consulted included Votesmart.org, Ballotpedia.org, OntheIssues.org, FactCheck.org , Politifact.com, and public candidate statements. For guides to local races, including Virginia's legislative races, see Vote411.org from the League of Women Voters and Ballotready.org.

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