State Sen. Frank Wagner (R)
“I try to bring the expertise and the skill sets that I learned in the Navy along with my private sector business experience to bear as I take a look at issues up in Richmond.”
State Sen. Frank Wagner, 61, was born in England while his father was stationed there for the Air Force but grew up in Arlington. He earned a degree in ocean engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a salvage diver. After leaving the service in 1982, he settled in Virginia Beach and started a ship repair yard. He sold that in the early 1990s, won a seat in the House of Delegates in 1991 and has been in the state Senate since 2001. He now co-owns Davis Boatworks in Newport News. Wagner, who is married and has four daughters, lives in Virginia Beach.
Wagner has run on his experience in the General Assembly and criticized his Republican opponents for promising to cut the state budget and lower taxes. He says the state already has a lean budget, having closed a $1.2 billion shortfall just this year, and low tax rates. Wagner advocates raising Virginia’s gasoline tax and using that money to pay for transportation improvements. He also believes the state should create a route for high schools to win accreditation for vocational training, instead of just academic performance, and launch extensive job and technical training programs. Wagner is opposed to abortion in all cases with the exception of rape or if the mother’s life is endangered.
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D)
“We can agree to disagree, but at the end of the day, I like to build consensus and again do what’s in the best interests of Virginia.”
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, 57, grew up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, the son of a nurse and a local judge. A graduate of Virginia Military Institute and Eastern Virginia Medical School, he served eight years in the Army, including a stint overseas treating Operation Desert Storm casualties. After leaving the service, he worked as a pediatric neurologist. He served in the state Senate from 2008 to 2014, when he was sworn in as lieutenant governor. Northam has stressed his ability to reach compromise with the Republican-controlled legislature and points to his success in passing a smoking ban in restaurants in a state rooted in the tobacco industry. He also played a key role in raising concerns about a Republican bill that, as originally proposed, would have required most women to undergo an invasive transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion.
As a candidate for governor, Northam has proposed a plan to make college more affordable. It would provide a free associate’s degree in exchange for a year of public service, such as working for government or a nonprofit. He has called for stricter gun control, including universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons. He has vowed to promote gay rights, preserve access to abortion and make preschool more affordable for low-income Virginians. Northam and his wife live in Norfolk and have three children.
Ed Gillespie (R)
“I think it’s important to have a governor, in particular, given how dependent we remain on federal policies and federal spending, who knows how to get things done in Washington, D.C.”
Ed Gillespie, 55, grew up in New Jersey, where he worked in his parents’ grocery store. His first job in politics was as a Senate parking lot attendant, but the Catholic University graduate wound up serving as counselor to President George W. Bush. He has also been a prominent Washington lobbyist and chairman of the Republican National Committee. His first bid for elected office came in 2014, when he came close to unseating Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).
As a candidate for governor, Gillespie has touted a plan to cut income taxes by 10 percent over three years. He has proposed plans for improving government efficiency and ethics, including a ban on personal use of campaign funds. He also vows to “reject federal overreach, secure and strengthen the Second Amendment, and protect innocent human life.” He opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is at risk. Gillespie and his wife live in Mount Vernon and have three children.
Tom Perriello (D)
“We need a bolder agenda that speaks more seriously to how much our economy has shifted.”
Former U.S. congressman Tom Perriello, who represented central and south Virginia in Congress from 2009 to 2011, grew up in a small community outside Charlottesville. Perriello, 42, graduated with an undergraduate and law degree from Yale University before going to Africa to work for the international prosecutor for war crimes in Sierra Leone. He later co-founded nonprofits devoted to international activism and mobilizing religious voters for progressive causes. After losing his reelection bid for Congress, Perriello led the advocacy arm of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, and later served in the State Department as an appointee of President Barack Obama. He is a bachelor who lives in Alexandria.
Perriello surprised many state Democrats when he announced in January that he was mounting a late challenge to Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam for the party’s gubernatorial nomination. As a candidate, Perriello has positioned himself as a policy-oriented progressive who supports free community college, paid family leave and universal pre-kindergarten and opposes a planned natural gas pipeline. His economic platform and vow to take on corporate monopolies helped secure endorsements from national progressive groups and figures, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Perriello has fended off criticism about conservative stances he took while serving in Congress, including on guns and abortion.
Corey Stewart (R)
“I speak my mind just the way it is and sometimes it doesn't always come out all that pretty but that's okay.”
Corey A. Stewart has served as chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors since 2006, a perch he used to help lead a crackdown on illegal immigration in 2007. He is one of a few Republicans elected countywide in Northern Virginia and has won four elections in the Washington exurb that has rapidly grown and diversified. Stewart, 48, practices international trade law by day and helps businesses with exports. He grew up in Minnesota and relocated after law school to Virginia, where he now lives in Woodbridge with his wife and two sons.
Stewart is running for governor on a social conservative and populist platform that includes deporting immigrants living in Virginia illegally, phasing out the income tax, outlawing abortion without exceptions and slashing state spending. He has attracted controversy by his embrace of the state’s Confederate heritage and opposition to removal of Confederate statues. He has welcomed support from white supremacists and others on the far right. Stewart has derided “political correctness” and says he admires President Trump’s style of blunt talk without apology. He chaired Trump’s presidential campaign in Virginia in 2016, until he was fired for staging an unauthorized protest against the Republican National Committee.