Adding another indicator of his ability to secure his party’s gubernatorial nomination, Ed Gillespie won the 2017 Loudoun County Republican Committee Straw Poll April 8.
In an unscientific poll of around 200 party supporters gathered in Purcellville, Gillespie took 76 percent of the vote, while Prince William Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart took 20 percent and state Sen. Frank Wagner took 4 percent.
The event allowed statewide candidates to mingle with more than a dozen Republican Loudoun County supervisors and General Assembly representatives, alongside dozens of party members in a casual setting at the Bush Tabernacle roller rink. Though informal, the LCRC straw poll reflected larger trends in scientific polling from across the state.
After rising to prominence in the minds of many Virginians by his closer-than-expected run for the Senate against incumbent Democrat Mark Warner in 2014, Gillespie has upped the momentum in his latest run for elected office. Ahead of the June 13 Republican Primary, Gillespie has maintained a sizable and consistent polling lead.
As he has in most of the campaign, Gillespie centered his brief stump speech to Loudoun County Republicans on his pro-business credentials and focus on economic growth. His campaign centerpiece has been a proposed 10-percent across-the-board tax cut for all Virginians, a policy that has drawn criticism from Democrats but support from Republicans, in Loudoun and across the Commonwealth.
“Those are policies based on our shared principals, constitutional principles, of limited effective government and that starts with bringing down our taxes,” Gillespie said.
State Sen. Jill Vogel, who has also held a lead in the statewide polls, garnered 61 percent of the Lt. Gov. straw poll, while fellow state Sen. Bryce Reeves secured 26 percent and Del. Glenn Davis took 13 percent.
Vogel, who represents parts of western Loudoun in the General Assembly, has marked her campaign by running to the political right of her two opponents, touting herself as the most “pro gun, pro life” candidate. Among LCRC members, her conservative approach resonated April 8.
“I’m am honored to be able to work with all of you here in Loudoun,” Vogel said. “I’m honored to have the support of so many leaders in Loudoun. I will never stop fighting for you guys, and it’s been my greatest honor to be with you for so many years.”
Del. Dave LaRock spoke on behalf of Richmond attorney John Adams, who recently secured the party’s nomination for Attorney General after being the only candidate to reach the required number of signatures to have his name on the primary ballot. As Adams had done on the campaign trail, LaRock focused his brief address on criticizing Democratic Attorney General nominee Mark Herring. While Republicans have attacked Herring for his failure to enforce the Commonwealth’s law banning gay marriage and leading opposition to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, LaRock went one step further by going after the incumbent Attorney General’s support for climate change regulations.
Virginia Republicans are trying to take back one or more of the Commonwealth’s five statewide offices for the first time since 2009. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is banned by the state constitution from seeking a second term, while fellow Democrats Ralph Northam, the incumbent Lt. Gov., and former congressman Tom Perriello are trying to succeed him.
On the Democratic side, former political staffer Susan Platt is taking on former federal prosecutors Justin Fairfax and Gene Rossi to take Northam’s spot for Lt. Gov. Herring is seeking re-election after winning the Attorney General position in 2013.
Along with Warner, Virginia’s other Senate seat is held by Democrat Tim Kaine. He will be up for re-election in 2018.