Around 300 people came out on a clear, cool Tuesday night to listen to the candidates for Virginia's Lieutenant Governor as they met in their first debate at the Arlington County campus of George Mason University.
E. W. Jackson, the Republican candidate is a Chesapeake minister who likens himself to John F. Kennedy or Mitt Romney because of the "scrutiny" he has been going through because of his outspoken comments on "false religion."
State Sen. Ralph S. Northam of Norfolk, the Democratic nominee, is a pediatric neurologist and Army veteran, and he touted his record in the legislature, including his push to ban smoking in Virginia’s restaurants.
It was a "no-brainer" as to which candidate won the debate, and calling the meet-up a debate is a stretch. If anyone was looking at the meet-up as a way to help them in making a decision on who to vote for, the two rivals gave everyone a clear and distinct choice.
Proving that the two rivals share little common ground when it comes to the issues that move the Commonwealth, Northam said he wants to work to further strengthen the economy, and put a stop to the assault on women's reproductive rights, as well as stop discrimination of the LGBT community.
Republican candidate Jackson, in defense of his sermon this past Sunday, decided to draw a distinction between what he has been preaching in the church and how he would govern. Jackson created quite an uproar of opinions across the state when he said that people who do not believe in Jesus Christ are practicing a "false religion."
Jackson drew a smattering of applauds when he quoted Article 1, Section 16 of the Virginia Constitution.
“All men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities,” Jackson read.
Jackson went on to say that,"if elected, I am going to serve all the people of Virginia, regardless of what their religious background is. I am not running to be bishop or preacher of Virginia, I am running to be lieutenant governor of Virginia."
On the undisclosed gifts scandal going on with Governor Bob McDonnell, Northam, calling the scandal an embarrassment to Virginia, pointed out he had previously introduced legislation that would have strengthened the state's gift disclosure laws, but it died in the House of Delegates.
Jackson countered by saying the Commonwealth had no need of additional ethics laws. He added that, "We found out about these indiscretions, so something obviously worked.”
On the issue of cutting corporate income taxes, Jackson is still looking at cutting, rather than doing away with them. “Every serious economic study has shown that when you cut the corporate income tax rate, for every 10 percent cut, you get a 1 percent growth in the economy,” Jackson said. “What we got to do is get our economy growing again.”
Northam countered this statement by saying Jackson would end up bankrupting the state, pointing out that "One of the two of us standing here is going to oversee an $80 billion budget."
There was one issue, and an important one, the two rivals agreed on, and that was education. Both candidates agree that parents should have the right to choose where their children go to school. Saying that diversity is a good thing to have, Northam went on to point out that "we should not have diversity at the expense of public education, which is our crown jewel.”
Be sure to view the video included with this story. In defense of E. W. Jackson, and his opinion that religion does play an important part in our lives, the opinions stated raise some good arguments, both pro and con.