WASHINGTON – The four Republican candidates for governor in Virginia are backing President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel for people from seven majority-Muslim countries, while the two Democratic candidates for governor are bashing the order.
Virginia’s primaries are set for June and the general election in November could be read as one of the earliest reactions at the ballot box to the president’s first months in office.
Republican candidates Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart, state Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, and distillery owner Denver Riggleman all strongly backed Trump’s executive order. Former Republican National Committee Chairman and U.S. Senate candidate Ed Gillespie generally favored the order, but with less enthusiasm.
Democratic candidates for governor, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former Rep. Tom Perriello, attacked the order as a violation of American values.
Candidates from both parties need to make an impression quickly for the primary as a Roanoke College poll last week suggested the vast majority of Virginians do not know enough about any of the candidates to have an opinion about them.
Under the Virginia constitution, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is not allowed to serve consecutive terms.
“People are busy with their lives, and they’re not paying a lot of attention to what’s going on in [local] politics,” McAuliffe said in an interview.
Since 2000, though Virginia’s voter turnout in presidential election years has been around 70 percent, the turnout in gubernatorial elections has been between 40.4 percent and 46.4 percent.