Column: Independent Progressive: Picking a Lieutenant Governor in Virginia

Column: Independent Progressive: Picking a Lieutenant Governor in Virginia

On June 13, we have two really important elections in Virginia. They are important because they are the Democratic and Republican primaries to select their candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General — the top elective offices in the Commonwealth. Because they are primaries, only about 5 percent of those eligible to vote are likely to turn out, and they are unlikely to be representative of all Virginians. Primary voters tend to be hard core, i.e., rabid tea party Republicans and liberal Democrats.

For purposes of this short column, I’m focusing on the Lt. Governor races. The race for Governor is getting enough media attention, and I have had contact with five of the six Lt. Governor candidates — three Republicans and three Democrats (all but Jill Vogel). I actually find the Republican contest most interesting because of a very nasty clash between frontrunner and leading fundraiser state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel and her former state senate “friend” Bryce Reeves. In late 2016, a rumor circulated in Republican circles that Reeves had an affair with a campaign aide. Reeves denied the rumor, claimed it came from the Vogel camp. The former police officer said he’d traced calls and electronic messages to a Vogel phone and a neighbor’s computer. Charges and countercharges are still moving glacially in the courts.

All three candidates are conservatives, all stress making Virginia better for business. Reeves is the most extreme. He told me on Reston TV that any adult should be able to buy as many firearms of any kind as his heart desired, except convicted felons. He loves the Ryan/Trump health care plan, and would have immigration status checked on anyone stopped by police. When I talked with the third candidate, Del. Glenn Davis, he said he had jointly sponsored legislation to allow “temporary expansion” of Medicaid, but backed off when pummeled by Republican colleagues. He would limit access to guns for those with serious mental illness. Vogel’s positions are largely in lockstep with the others, except she insists she wants stronger ethics rules on the uses of campaign cash!

The three Democrats running in the June 13 primary are: Justin Fairfax, Susan Platt, and Gene Rossi. Fairfax and Rossi are lawyers, both with experience as Assistant State Attorneys— the latter for 27 years. Ms. Platt has worked as senior staff to Joe Biden and other prominent Democrats. Unlike the Republican candidates, all three Democrats are Northern Virginians and none have held elective office. The Dems call for tax fairness and more, better paying jobs. All are solidly liberal and refuse money from Dominion Power, leading a movement to break its stranglehold on Virginia’s legislative assembly.

At 38, Justin Fairfax is the frontrunner, with endorsements of the Party establishment, twice as much in the campaign till as his opponents. Four years ago, Fairfax lost a primary by an eyelash to now Attorney General Mark Herring. I was impressed not only with his progressive credentials but also his thoughtful approach to issues. I even got the sense this man might well be capable of working on innovative solutions with Republicans!