Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
Unlike the race for Lieutenant Governor, I was not wracked with indecision before making my selection in the race for Governor. Virginia Republicans have a clear choice in front of them, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Ed Gillespie is the best choice for Governor on June 13th, and it’s not even close.
Ed Gillespie is qualified, conservative, optimistic, and has shown that he can surpass any expectations set at his feet.
First, on the background front, Gillespie’s story is one of a man ingrained in the conservative movement. As an aide, Gillespie helped craft the Contract with America, which ushered Republicans into power in 1994, led to welfare reform and a balanced budget, and remains the last great public policy push of the conservative movement. It’s no wonder Gillespie has the backing of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Gillespie served as an aide to President George W. Bush, and chairman of the Republican National Committee during part of Bush’s term. These years saw a conservative president re-elected and the American people kept safe. While I, like many conservatives, have some qualms about the Bush tenure, it was a net positive for our party and our country and Gillespie was intimately involved in making that happen.
Gillespie ran for Senate against Mark Warner in 2014, and despite not receiving the media attention or fundraising help of other GOP challengers, it was a nail biter. Where polls said Gillespie trailed by double digits, he lost by less than 1%. Had the polls been accurate, Gillespie would’ve likely received the outside help he needed to be sitting in the United States Senate right now.
How did Gillespie almost pull off such a political miracle? The same way he’s running his gubernatorial campaign. He is idea-oriented, positive, and has never been afraid to pound the pavement. Gillespie has already unveiled impressive platforms for ethics reform, size of government reform, and tax reform. He has also traveled the Commonwealth extensively, selling these ideas to Republican voters.
Simply put, Gillespie offers hope of a better way than some of the rancorous, media-driven candidacies we’ve seen attempted. There’s an earnestness to how Gillespie campaigns and presents himself, and I believe voters are capable of rewarding him for that.
As for the other two candidates in the race, my list of concerns is as long as it is detailed.
State Senator Frank Wagner is a long-time proponent of a gas tax increase, has needlessly railed against tolls (when the real problem is bad deals), and is guilty of some of the most divisive intraparty tactics that Virginia Republicans have seen.
Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart is worse. Despite his record as a tax-hiking, establishment, developer-friendly blue county Republican, he has decided to run as an anti-establishment populist. He has attached himself to the alt-right and various white supremacists, and has used language and championed causes that should embarrass every Republican in the Commonwealth.
All the while, back home, he’s pushing a sweetheart deal on a new baseball park that taxpayers will be on the hook for. He’s one of the most duplicitous men I’ve ever met in politics, and his candidacy would be a disaster.
Virginia voters for Governor don’t have to pick between the unpalatable. Ed Gillespie represents a consistent conservative voice and even more important, he’s a good man. Voters can be confident that he will reward their trust if he wins the Republican primary on June 13th, and he will have my vote.