WASHINGTON — The candidates for Virginia’s next lieutenant governor offer voters starkly different visions for the state.
Sen. Jill Vogel, a Republican from Fauquier County, and Democrat Justin Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor who lives in Annandale, are running to succeed Ralph Northam as the state’s second-ranking elected official.
In Virginia, the lieutenant governor serves a part-time role presiding over the Senate. A largely ceremonial post, the lieutenant governor can break tie votes. But a narrowly divided Senate — Republicans outnumber Democrats 21 to 19 — make the candidates’ positions especially relevant to voters this election.
Overshadowed by the competitive race at the top of the ticket, the contest has received little attention. Multiple polls show Fairfax leading Vogel, mirroring results that show fellow Democrats Northam and Mark Herring ahead in their races for governor and attorney general over Republicans Ed Gillespie and John Adams.
Here’s a look at the candidates and their positions on some of the most important issues for voters.
Brief bio: Ran Sen. Mark Warner’s 2014 re-election campaign and was a candidate for state attorney general in the 2013 Democratic primary. He was an assistant federal prosecutor in Virginia working on drug and violent crime cases.
Money raised: Fairfax raised $1.3 million in October, according to campaign finance reports released this week. He had $518,000 in the bank heading into the final 10 days before the election.
On the economy: Fairfax echoes the vision laid out by his ticketmates Ralph Northam and Mark Herring, who are running for governor and attorney general. But Fairfax, who is a relative newcomer to state politics, takes a more progressive economic stance than Northam and Herring, who both previously served in the Senate. Fairfax would raise the minimum wage to $15 — it’s currently set at $7.25. He also advocates for more workforce training to help Virginians fill higher-paying jobs. He opposes two proposed natural gas pipelines that would cross through Virginia.
Health care: Fairfax supports expanding the state’s Medicaid program. Under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, the federal government would pick up most of the tab for expanding the program to cover 400,000 Virginians. The Republican-led General Assembly has rejected past pitches to expand the health care program. He has also said he’d support single-payer health care run by the government. And he has attacked his opponent for introducing a bill requiring transvaginal ultrasounds for most women in order to have an abortion.
Guns laws: Fairfax would ban high capacity magazines, bump stocks and assault-style rifles. He would support universal background checks.
Brief bio: Has served in the Virginia Senate since 2008 representing a district that stretches from Loudoun to Fauquier to Winchester. Served as a Department of Energy lawyer under George W. Bush and was the legal counsel for the Republican National Committee. She leads her own law firm and works with right-leaning groups on election law.
Money raised: Vogel raised $1.4 million in October. She had roughly $124,000 in the bank heading into the final 10 days before the election.
On the economy: Vogel wants the state to be an energy leader and embraces an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that includes coal, natural gas, wind and solar. She supports two natural gas pipeline projects that would cross the state. She said that a new source of energy is needed to bring jobs and businesses to the vast western portion of the state and would help reduce energy costs. She does not support raising the minimum wage.
Health care: Vogel does not support expanding the state’s Medicaid program, which she said eats up a quarter of the state’s general fund budget and is growing. She’s attacked her opponent for supporting the idea of single-payer health coverage, saying 5 million Virginians would lose their private insurance.
Vogel defended her bill that would have required many women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion saying it would have codified what is standard medical practice. She ultimately pulled the bill and said that Fairfax was using the issue to exploit women and called it a cheap, political ploy.
Gun laws: Vogel is a staunch defender of Second Amendment rights. “I’m not running for lieutenant governor to take anybody’s rights away.” She has questioned the effectiveness of laws restricting gun ownership to reduce gun violence.