The radically conservative nature of the Republican ticket this year leads us to favor the Democrats for statewide office, Terry McAuliffe for governor, Ralph Northam for lieutenant governor and Mark Herring for attorney general.
There has been reticence by many given the choice for governor this year. Even so, you vote for the choices you have in front of you. We endorse Terry McAuliffe for governor. Having prospered for four years under the pro-business focus of Gov. Bob McDonnell, McAuliffe’s hyper-focus on economic issues is one we’re comfortable with. His push for expanding resources at the community college system is one to be lauded and he has taken a solid, reasonable approach on the issues of the day.
The criticism laid against McAuliffe has landed largely on his reputation as a salesman and deal-maker. Ranked among the best states for business, we must continue attracting large businesses to the commonwealth. To do that, the state needs a governor who is comfortable in a corporate boardroom pitching the virtues of the Old Dominion. Virginia needs someone like McAuliffe to be a salesman for the commonwealth. Whether or not his overtures will be accepted, he is also a man likely to extend a hand on bipartisan compromise. For those concerned with his lack of legislative experience, we point to the success of Sen. Mark Warner, who likewise was without experience as an elected official before his term as governor.
Ken Cuccinelli is a man of strong principles and conservative values. However, despite his final stretch attempt to recast himself as devoted to job growth and economic recovery, his tenure as attorney general demonstrates that he cannot resist placing his own ideological concerns above the business of governing. Whether it’s conducting an independent investigation into climate change research, attempting to limit nondiscrimination policies for gays and lesbians at colleges and universities or his continued push to limit women’s options on abortion, Cuccinelli cannot divorce himself from social issues and an economic platform of lowering taxes without specified budget cuts is suspect. His tendency toward the crusade du jour makes him ill equipped to serve as a mediator between political parties, an Achilles heel shared by far too many of our public officials today.
The choice for lieutenant governor appears easy. Ralph Northam is an experienced legislator with a level demeanor and a desire to reach across the aisle to improve the commonwealth. His experience in the Virginia Senate should prove invaluable upon inheriting an evenly divided body. A pediatric neurologist by trade, we’re eager to see his contribution to future debates on health care and Medicaid expansion. Alternatively, to call the campaign of E.W. Jackson disappointing would be an understatement. Accusing his opponent of making the race all about social issues, Jackson has continued to stand behind an ever-expanding string of extremist comments. He appears more interested in finding a podium to speak his mind than an opportunity to serve.
For attorney general, we choose Mark Herring. We’ve watched Herring’s work as state senator representing Loudoun and Fairfax. He has fought to protect the elderly from financial abuse, supported the region on transportation issues and worked across party lines for his constituents. More important, Herring cares deeply about each and every issue he espouses and understands the human cost in bad legislation and missed opportunities. Our sole regret is that should he win, Loudoun wouldn’t have Herring to represent us in the General Assembly.
Mark Obenshain has a strong record on public safety legislation, but his introduction of the personhood bill gives us serious pause. It leads us to believe that an Attorney General Obenshain would be as activist as the Cuccinelli administration ending this term.
Endorsements for the House of Delegates
Two important issues for Northern Virginia are transportation and bipartisanship. The recent government shutdown serves as a grim reminder of the perils of political idealism at the expense of finding a workable solution. And being able to get from point A to point B remains a challenge for our region. The two issues converged this year with the passage of the transportation bill in the General Assembly. While not a perfect bill, the political reality is that it was the first transportation funding reform in decades. It was also the last possible moment to complete the task as neither gubernatorial hopeful would have had the political clout to push through the compromise at the beginning of their term.
House of Delegates candidates were graded harshly for being unable to reach across party lines and recognize the need for transportation reform sooner rather than later.
Among Republicans, we have chosen to endorse Randy Minchew in the 10th District, Tag Greason in the 32nd, Jim LeMunyon in the 67th and Tom Rust in the 86th.
We support Del. Randy Minchew for a second term in the House of Delegates. A fixture in the Leesburg legal and political establishment, Minchew understands the district and the structure of government. He has also shown the ability to examine both sides of an issue to make the smart choice. While he certainly shows promise, Democrat Monte Johnson requires a bit more seasoning in order to delve deeper into the issues.
The 32nd District’s Del. Tag Greason has amassed a respectable list of accomplishments on kitchen table issues in the region, obtaining coverage for children with autism and requiring schools to have an EpiPen for students with an extreme allergic reaction. We have been pleasantly surprised by the Elizabeth Miller campaign, her aggressive legwork and her ability to speak on big issues in a relatable way. We hope to see more of her in the future, but just haven’t been convinced to put aside a resourceful legislator like Greason.
In the 67th District, Del. Jim LeMunyon has been a reliable voice for the business community and should continue in that role. After initial doubts, LuMunyon worked to keep more regional transportation dollars in Northern Virginia. Certainly well-meaning, Democrat Hung Nguyen doesn’t have the breadth of experience and might benefit from a campaign for county office. His ideas and energy on education issues would certainly be welcome.
Del. Tom Rust of the 86th District remains a beacon of common sense and moderation in the Northern Virginia delegation. Attempts by Democratic opponent Jennifer Boysko to paint Rust as either an ideological extremist or ineffective legislator simply fall flat. Experience has its benefits. Even if we were more taken with Boysko’s first campaign, it wouldn’t overcome our appreciation for the long history of transportation solutions and bipartisan compromise that we’ve seen from Rust.
Among Democratic candidates, we endorse Mary Daniel in the 33rd District, Kathleen Murphy in the 34th and John Bell in the 87th.
In the campaign to replace Del. Joe May in the 33rd District, we prefer Mary Costello Daniel. A moderate on fiscal issues, Daniel has experience dealing with land use and legislative action from her time on the Clarke County Planning Commission and the Berryville Town Council. She has a keen understanding of the breadth of her district and approaches problems from a solutions-based perspective. Alternatively, Republican Dave LaRock’s limited government philosophy makes him appear to be opposed to many things while not necessarily proposing new solutions. While his activism has borne fruit in examining the flaws in proposals like the Silver Line, it’s difficult to imagine him as part of a bipartisan solution to new problems.
While certainly not the primary consideration, the race in the 34th District seems to turn on social issues. Here, our endorsement turns for Kathleen Murphy, who better represents its socially moderate residents. Current delegate, Barbara Comstock has received significant criticism over her support of legislation at odds with reproductive choice. A business advocate through her work on the data center and teleworking bills, Comstock’s opposition to the transportation bill leaves us scratching our heads.
Support for a transportation solution filtered into our endorsement of Democrat John Bell in the 87th District as well. While we commend Del. David Ramadan’s part in the founding of the Business Development Caucus and his outreach to small business, his opposition to the transportation bill is confounding particularly given his apparent support of projects stemming from its funding. And in an election cycle where political gifts are at the forefront, Ramadan’s political disclosure problem is troubling. Alternatively, John Bell has waged a strong campaign with a moderate message. Having won awards as a budget officer in the Air Force, he eludes the typical criticism of being soft on fiscal discipline.
While we feel that an outside perspective on the strengths of each candidate is a proper function for a newspaper opinion page, we also encourage our readers to investigate the individual candidates. Study their positions on the issues and make a choice that seems right for you and your family … but above all, get out and vote on Nov. 5.