As Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race enters its final weeks, Democrat candidate Ralph Northam is facing criticism for ignoring rural Virginia voters, jeopardizing his chances of winning this November. The Washington Times reports that Northam is “leaving the state’s rural residents feeling increasingly written off by a party that used to reach for their votes” while Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, recently told the Times that he doesn’t “get the sense that the Northam campaign is trying to win in the election by expanding the rural Democrat vote.” As GOP nominee Ed Gillespie visits every corner of the state, pledging to be a governor for all Virginians, Northam has made it clear to rural Virginians that they simply don’t matter to him, alienating a key voting bloc ahead of what will be a close election this November.
The Washington Times reports:
“Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam hasn’t called on the Bluegrass Brothers in his bid for Virginia’s governorship, but he has called for stricter gun laws, leaving the state’s rural residents feeling increasingly written off by a party that used to reach for their votes…
It’s a major change from the past decade, when gubernatorial candidate Mark R. Warner led a Democratic resurgence in the state, investing time and money in Southside and Southwest Virginia to court coal miners, farmers and the rest of the rural economy…
But the tone of the Northam campaign breaks with the winning Democratic campaigns of the previous decade.
Where Mr. Warner courted the National Rifle Association, Mr. Northam campaigns with gun control groups. He also has staked out stances on immigration and Confederate memorials that are in line with the national Democratic Party’s strategy of stitching together a ‘rainbow coalition’ of minorities and liberal issues activists.
‘I don’t think the Northam campaign has pursued anything like the Warner strategy,’ said political science professor Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University. ‘I don’t get the sense that the Northam campaign is trying to win in the election by expanding the rural Democrat vote. I think what they are trying to do is re-create the demographic vote that [Hillary] Clinton got in 2016.’”