Va. Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls trade loyalty barbs

WASHINGTON — Two men hoping to be Virginia’s next governor took a moment from attempting to illustrate their differences to question their opponent’s loyalty to the Democratic party.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former Rep. Tom Perriello were united in their criticism of Republican President Donald Trump during a debate at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall, in the Richmond suburb of Highland Springs.

On the issues, Perriello repeated his plan to make pre-kindergarten and post-secondary education and training a priority, while Northam urged the state to invest more in K-12 education.

The mostly-civil debate included a few minutes of sniping, with Perriello reminding Northam of his voting record, before Northam entered politics.

“Dr. Northam voted for George W. Bush, twice, in 2000 and 2004,” said Perriello. “Trickle-down economics that he supported in the past does not create growth, investment in the middle class and working class is what promotes growth.”

Northam had done his own research.

“In 2009, Mr. Perriello made a statement that he was really a Libertarian at heart, and the only reason that he switched to being a Democrat was so that he could run for Congress,” said Northam.

“People that live in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones, because sometimes when it breaks, the glass can get very sharp,” Northam said, as the crowd’s “oooooh” murmuring was audible.

The two debate again, on May 16, in Hampton Roads, leading up to the June 13 primary election.

Republicans vying to be the nominee include former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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