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The Right Note: Northam Will Avoid Debates

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Now that the national political parties have moved past a $50 million special election for Congress in suburban Atlanta, all eyes will begin to move to the Old Dominion.

Virginians can expect a summer and fall filled with television ads, phone calls, and people knocking on your door asking you to get out and vote in the Governor’s race. Your Facebook feed will undoubtedly be filled with political opinions.

With all the political clutter coming our way, the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates for governor and compare them side by side will be limited to three debates. That is the number of debates Democrat nominee Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam agreed to appear at after Republican nominee Ed Gillespie agreed to 10.

Northam’s decision came on the heels of debating his fellow Democrat Tom Perriello five times in the run-up to the June 13 primary. Northam did say he would make seven other joint appearances with Gillespie, but showing up at the Shad Planking and making a stump speech is hardly the same thing as answering questions.

This is a growing trend for Democratic candidates for Governor in Virginia. Former Gov. Bob McDonnell challenged Creigh Deeds to 10 debates, but Deeds only agreed to four. Ken Cuccinelli asked for 15 debates, but Gov. Terry McAuliffe only granted three.

Northam made opposition to President Trump a key component of his primary message. Both he and Perriello made it abundantly clear they were tossing aside any nods to moderation as they raced to the activist far left base and the anti-Trump Resist movement.

Standing up to a President you do not agree with is certainly fair game as a campaign issue. And if more governors pushed back against the encroachment of the federal government, we would all be better off. However, Northam’s campaign engaged in name calling rather than pushing back on specific policies.

Right now the voters of Virginia deserve to know what the current Lt. Governor would do as Governor. How would you make Virginia’s economy the best in the U.S.? What would you do to improve educational options for all Virginians? How would you address the transportation needs of Northern Virginia?

Hopefully the next few months will be filled with policy specifics and not more name calling, but don’t hold your breath in this political environment.

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