Image Credits: Twitter / Ralph Northam | Twitter / Ed Gillespie

While many of us are still recovering from the crazy and busy election year that was 2016, people around the country are working hard on yet another election. While 2017 definitely isn’t a heavy election year like even-numbered years are, there have been a few special Congressional elections, and now we are gearing up for two gubernatorial races. One of them is hotly contested and going to be THE election to watch this year. That’s the state of Virginia’s gubernatorial election, and here’s what you need to know.

The Incumbent

The current governor of Virginia is Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who was elected in 2013.  He is not running for re-election in 2017 because of Virginia’s gubernatorial laws. Virginia does not limit their governors by term, as in other states where you might be limited to two four-year terms, but governors cannot serve consecutive terms. Essentially, this means that while McAuliffe cannot run in 2017. He could run in 2021, but the winner in 2017 could not. Before becoming governor, McAuliffe was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The Democratic candidate

The Democratic candidate is Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist who served in the army. He currently serves as Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor. According to his website, he supports better healthcare for veterans, a woman’s right to choose, cutting college costs, and an assault weapons ban. When he was Lt. Governor, he blocked legislation to allow Virginia citizens to carry concealed without a permit.  He promises to make Virginia a “well-Governed” state, which includes balancing the budget. Northam is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. He is married to Pam, an elementary school teacher, with whom he shares two children.


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The Republican candidate

The Republican candidate is Ed Gillespie. Like his Democratic opponent, he was also the chair of his party’s national committee back in the day. Gillespie was a counselor to President George W Bush and the chairman of Bob McDonnell’s campaign for Virginia governor in 2009. Previously, Gillespie ran for the senate and narrowly lost. According to his website, he wants to reduce healthcare costs, address the issue of drug addiction, and invest in public safety measures, including the recruitment of good law enforcement personnel. Ed is married to his wife Cathy and they have three children.

The election

The Virginia gubernatorial election will take place on November 7th, 2017. As of late June 2017, the race was leaning Democrat. As we all know, nothing is certain in elections anymore, and polling must be taken with a big grain of salt.  The Hill reported recently that the race was “in dead heat.” Your involvement and support of the candidates could make a major difference.

How to get involved

Getting involved in a state-wide gubernatorial campaign is easy, because the candidates want people doing grassroots work across the entire state.  If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get involved without becoming a staffer, consider door-knocking, sign posting, phone-banking, or even doing research for the campaign. Check out the candidates’ campaign websites for more information. You don’t have to live in Virginia to help out. Check out some of our past FFL articles on how to be a great asset to a door-knocking campaign and how to phone bank like a pro.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member