Fact Check: Ralph Northam’s “No Show” Record

Northam's "no show" record is a theme emerging from the Virginia gubernatorial race.

With the Virginia general election less than two months away, both candidates for governor are ratcheting up the intensity of their ads and campaign efforts.

While the two campaigns have focused on an array of issues ranging from taxes to sanctuary cities, a theme emerging from the Ed Gillespie campaign is Ralph Northam’s attendance record as Lieutenant Governor.

From a Gillespie press release: 

The Ed Gillespie for Governor campaign today launched ‘NoShowNortham.com,’ a microsite that brings to light Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam’s failure to uphold one of the most fundamental responsibilities of the job entrusted to him by the people of Commonwealth: showing up for work.

Throughout his time in office, Northam missed at least 27 meetings on a broad range of important topics, including meetings of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Secure Commonwealth Panel, and Council on Virginia’s Future.


To date, the Gillespie campaign has aired two “No Show Northam” ads across Virginia. 

The first ad, posted on June 29th of this year calls out Ralph Northam’s attendance record at various meetings across the Commonwealth.

The second ad, posted on September 8th, also attack’s Northam’s meeting attendance record, but places special emphasis on his lack of attendance at meetings of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (more on that below).

How well does a “No Show” accusation against Ralph Northam stand up to the truth? Here are some of the most notable examples:

1)  Ralph Northam skipped Virginia Economic Development Partnership meetings.

Ralph Northam missed meetings of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state agency that reportedly made some costly decisions for the Commonwealth. A summary from the Staunton-based News Leader

VEDP, created by the state legislature in 1995 to boost economic development, has long been criticized for waste and dysfunction. In 2014, while Northam served on its board of directors, the agency approved a $1.4 million state grant to a Chinese firm that promised to open a factory in Appomattox County but never did. The money was never returned to the state


2)  Ralph Northam is skipping chances to debate Ed Gillespie.

After Ed Gillespie accepted 10 gubernatorial debate invitations across Virginia, Ralph Northam responded by only accepting invitations to three debates (and seven joint appearances). 

Ralph Northam even rejected a debate invitation from Doug Wilder, a former Democrat governor of Virginia, and the first elected African American Governor of any state.

3)  Ralph Northam skipped the Buena Vista Labor Day Parade. 

The Buena Vista Labor Day Parade isn’t just any old parade in Virginia. A scathing editorial from the Roanoke Times notes:

As Virginia changed, and the weight of the population shifted further and further east, spending so much time west of the Blue Ridge made less and less sense. Still, the quaint little tradition of the Buena Vista Labor Day parade was one that candidates always honored — and often extolled in the way that politicians do. Showing up in Buena Vista, walking the parade route, and giving a speech in the park was simply a requirement of Virginia politics.

Check back with the Free Telegraph for more updates on this story!