The following was written by Delegate Jim Scott and Senator Mary Margaret Whipple.
For the past several weeks, Nick Benton has written columns and news stories about the church former Delegate Chap Petersen and his family attend, with the implication that Petersen, who is also running against Republican Jeannemarie Davolites Davis, for the Virginia State Senate, should leave and/or denounce his church. Sound familiar?
John Kennedy faced the same roadblock: opposition to his candidacy for President because of fear that he would follow unpopular teachings of his church, not the will of the citizens of the United States.
While we support Nick Benton’s right to offer his opinions to the readers of his newspaper, we think it is high time that he, as Editor &Owner, gave some time to the different positions of both candidates. Chap suggested that both candidates be requested to answer the same questions in writing so that voters can decide for themselves. Instead, Benton criticizes Petersen for saying that religious values have a place in political debate.
We have known Chap Petersen for many years. His positions on many important issues differ from those of Devolites Davis: she would ban abortions; he would not; he openly opposed the Constitutional Amendment that banned civil unions and marriages among same-sex couples, she supported it. Chap strongly opposed the elimination of the estate tax in Virginia; Davolites Davis supported it. The estate tax repeal will cost $140 million this fiscal year, but it will only benefit approximately 3000 wealthy individuals. That amount would finance the Governor’s pre-school readiness programs for at risk children for the next biennium, plus finance many of the mental health reforms proposed by the Governor’s commission on the Virginia Tech tragedy.
We urge Nick Benton to focus on campaign issues, not religious preferences of candidates.