By Ralph Northam
On June 13, Virginia Democrats will have an important choice to make. With President Trump in the White House threatening our values, Virginia’s next governor needs to be a brick wall on the things we care about most – I’m ready for that fight. I’ve been fighting for progressive, Democratic values for the almost 10 years I’ve spent in elected office and I won’t stop now.
I have the experience to hit the ground running in Richmond. I know what it takes to win statewide elections, having earned the most votes of any statewide candidate in Virginia’s history to run in an off-year election.
The stakes could not be higher for our future, for our children’s futures – but I’ve never backed down from a tough fight. I won in 2007 in a race people said was unwinnable: against a two-term incumbent in a conservative district.
They told me I couldn’t get the smoking ban in restaurants passed back when I was serving in the Senate. But I wasn’t afraid to take on tobacco companies to get it done. And when it didn’t pass the first time, I brought it back the next year and then-Governor Kaine signed it into law.
I stood up on the floor of the state Senate and fought the infamous transvaginal ultrasound mandate. There’s no place for a bunch of legislators, most of whom are men, to be telling women what they should and shouldn’t do with their own bodies. As a senator and as Lieutenant Governor, I have unwaveringly stood up to not only defend, but also expand women’s access to reproductive health care. I’ve never backed down from that fight and I never will.
In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, I listened to the families and fought alongside them to close the gun show loophole. I’ve never been afraid to stand up to the NRA and I have the F rating to show for it. As governor, I’ll continue fighting for commonsense gun safety reform.
I wasn’t afraid to be the first statewide elected official in Virginia to fight against offshore drilling. And, as a native of the Eastern Shore, I have been a champion for the Chesapeake Bay and a steward of the environment. That concern for our environment is what first motivated me to run for public office 10 years ago. It still motivates me today.
Under Governor Terry McAuliffe’s leadership, Virginia’s unemployment rate has gone from 5.4 to 3.8 percent. Together, our administration has brought in 190,000 jobs and $15 billion of investment to the Commonwealth. But that hasn’t reached every corner of Virginia, especially rural Virginia, and I’ll fight as governor to make sure it does.
These past three and a half years have also shown how critical it is to have a Democratic governor to be a brick wall against the Republican General Assembly. But Democrats won’t get that brick wall unless they choose a candidate who can make it to the governor’s office. Governor Terry McAuliffe recently vetoed his 120th piece of legislation from the Republican General Assembly – bills that would have become law if not for his pen.
But it’s not just about what I’ve done, it’s also about what I’ll do to take Virginia to the next level. Virginians are looking for a leader to make sure that all jobs in Virginia are good jobs. They want our students to be qualified for the industries of the future, like cybersecurity, biotechnology, and data analysis.
Virginians want their families to have access to affordable, quality health care. They want their children going to school in a world-class education system. They want to live in communities that are safe, without guns on every street corner.
As a pediatrician, I have held a lot of babies in my arms. When you look into the eyes of a baby, you don’t see the hatred and the bigotry that we so often see in society. You see love, joy and affection. What are these babies going to grow up to be? Are they going to live in communities that are inclusive? Are they going to have access to a world-class education system? Are they going to have access to affordable health care? And are they going to live in an environment where the air and water are clean?
Like I said before, I’ve spent a lot of time traveling our Commonwealth. Everywhere I go, the crowds are larger, and I see new faces. That enthusiasm bodes well for Democrats in November. But we are facing a choice on June 13. With my record of progressive leadership and results, I believe I’m the right choice to continue making progress as governor.
On June 13, with your vote, this is a vision for the future we will work on together.
Ralph Northam is the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and is running for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial election.