Ste­wart, Wag­ner at­tempt to de­rail Gille­spie cam­paign

Pri­mary vote for gov­er­nor is Tues­day

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY SETH MCLAUGHLIN

Aim­ing to slow Ed Gille­spie’s mo­men­tum in the fi­nal days of the GOP gu­ber­na­to­rial pri­mary in Vir­ginia, Corey Ste­wart is warn­ing that a vote for the for­mer ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush would be a dev­as­tat­ing blow against the grass-roots move­ment that gave rise to Pres­i­dent Trump.

State Sen. Frank Wag­ner, mean­while, is at­tack­ing him from an­other an­gle, telling vot­ers that his re­sume is stronger than Mr. Gille­spie’s. Mr. Wag­ner ac­cuses Mr. Gille­spie of of­fer­ing “pie-in-thesky” pro­pos­als that would hurt the Old Do­min­ion if they ever came to fruition.

Mr. Gille­spie has been viewed as the front-run­ner in the race for months, polling ahead of his ar­rivals since he joined the race. Vot­ers go to the polls Tues­day to set­tle the mat­ter.

Po­lit­i­cal ob­servers say Mr. Gille­spie is ben­e­fit­ing from greater name recog­ni­tion and statewide con­nec­tions he built up dur­ing his 2014 cam­paign for U.S. Se­nate.

“That has given him a huge ad­van­tage amongst Vir­ginia Repub­li­cans com­pared to a state sen­a­tor and a county gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial who rep­re­sent small sliv­ers of the state,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Mary Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. “When you have been con­sis­tently be­hind and you need to fig­ure out a way to make up for lost times, you are re­ally are hav­ing to do one of the last things you want to have to do in pol­i­tics. If the mes­sage you have of­fered over the last six months has not got­ten vot­ers ex­cited, there is not a lot you can do over the last six days.”

Mr. Gille­spie’s spokesman David Abrams said his boss is not tak­ing any­thing for granted and is stick­ing with an op­ti­mistic mes­sage.

“Ed will con­tinue to run a pos­i­tive cam­paign, fo­cused on putting for­ward de­tailed poli­cies that will spark eco­nomic growth and cre­ate new, good-pay­ing jobs for all Vir­gini­ans,” Mr. Abrams said. “With sup­port from 67 of 87 Repub­li­can mem­bers of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly, more than 1,250 coali­tion mem­bers across 35 dif­fer­ent coali­tion groups, and over 6,000 vol­un­teers statewide, Ed’s vi­sion of a thriv­ing Vir­ginia con­tin­ues to res­onate across the Com­mon­wealth.”

In his fi­nal pri­mary ad re­leased this week, Mr. Gille­spie laments that too many Vir­gini­ans can’t find good-pay­ing jobs be­cause of lack­lus­ter eco­nomic growth on Demo­cratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s watch, and vows to cut taxes and spend­ing.

But his pri­mary op­po­nents say more is on the line than re­plac­ing a Demo­crat in the gov­er­nor’s man­sion.

“Vir­ginia Repub­li­cans need a fighter,” said Mr. Ste­wart, chair­man of the Prince Wil­liam County Board of Su­per­vi­sors and a for­mer chair­man of Mr. Trump’s state cam­paign. “They need some­one who is not go­ing to back down. They are sick and tired of the wishy-washy, weak-kneed, es­tab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans who don’t stand for any­thing.”

He said he’ll tell vot­ers over the fi­nal days that a Gille­spie vic­tory “would mean that the Trump rev­o­lu­tion stopped in 2016.”

Mr. Wag­ner, mean­while, says his ex­pe­ri­ence as Navy vet­eran, owner of a ship­yard busi­ness and law­maker makes him bet­ter equipped for the job than Mr. Gille­spie.

“I have 25 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the Gen­eral As­sem­bly. Ed Gille­spie has noth­ing,” he said. “I can­not name one thing that he has done in Vir­ginia. If you want a D.C. in­sider that has been up and D.C. and has no clue what is go­ing on in Vir­ginia, he is your guy.”

Mr. Wag­ner fa­vors a gas tax in­crease to pay for road and in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments, and has crit­i­cized his ri­vals for push­ing tax plans that rely on overly op­ti­mistic rev­enue pro­jec­tions that would add to the state’s fis­cal woes.

“My def­i­ni­tion of con­ser­va­tive is some­one who pays their bills, gets their fis­cal house in or­der, and has a rainy gay fund,” he said. “My other two op­po­nents’ def­i­ni­tion of con­ser­va­tive is ‘I am go­ing to pro­pose pie-in-the-sky tax cuts re­gard­less of the im­pact of state’s fi­nances, re­gard­less of im­pact on the re­tire­ment fund and re­gard­less of the im­pact on the state’s bond rat­ing.”

The GOP nom­i­nee will go up against the win­ner of the Demo­cratic pri­mary race be­tween Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and for­mer Rep. Tom Per­riello, who have called Mr. Trump as a “nar­cis­sis­tic ma­niac” and cast him as tyrant, as they look to score points with pro­gres­sive ac­tivist that have risen up against the pres­i­dent.

Ed Gille­spie is the Repub­li­can frontrunner in the race for Vir­ginia’s gov­er­nor. His op­po­nents are at­tack­ing his record.

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