Two Big Questions Ralph Northam Ignored in the Second Virginia Governor Debate

It was obvious that two big issues made Democrat candidate Ralph Northam very uncomfortable.

On September 19th, Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam met in Northern Virginia, for the second gubernatorial debate of this year’s statewide election. You can watch the debate in its entirety here.

While the candidates sparred on issues ranging from Confederate statues to tax cuts, it was obvious that two big issues made Democrat candidate Ralph Northam very uncomfortable.

As previously reported by the Free Telegraph, sanctuary cities are a major issue in the Virginia gubernatorial race, with each candidate taking a very different stance.  September’s debate highlights the clear contrast between the candidates on this issue. Gillespie gave a strong statement against sanctuary cities, while Northam did his best to tiptoe around the issue (you can read their positions below).

You can watch the entire bit here (transcript below):

Questioner: Mr. Northam, the issue of sanctuary cities, defined by the Trump administration, as municipalities that violate a federal law requiring sharing information about an immigrant’s legal status with the federal government, has become a very hot topic in this race, with Mr. Gillespie calling on a ban of them, while you say you are opposed to that. Why should not cities in Virginia share this kind of information with the federal government, especially when there are violent gangs, such as MS-13?

Ralph Northam: And I will just tell you from the start, with MS-13, if a violent crime is committed in this country or in this state, these violent criminals need to be locked up, it doesn't matter what their status is. Regarding sanctuary cities, Mr. Gillespie agreed with me during the last debate, we don't have sanctuary cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And so it’s a solution looking for a problem, the piece of legislation that they often refer to. But what we do need to do is support our local law enforcement, our sheriffs and deputies, our state police, our city and town municipalities, and make sure they have all of the tools that they need to do their job to keep communities safe. They need to do their job, ICE needs to do their job. And at the end of the day, what we really need to happen, and I know we have a congressman in the audience and I’m not pointing any fingers, but Congress needs to do their job and sit down at the table, and come up with comprehensive immigration reform. It would take care of a lot of these challenges and dilemmas we are currently discussing.

Ed Gillespie: We’ve seen cities in other states establish sanctuary cities and not cooperate with federal law enforcement and turn over violent criminals, in cooperation, and let them loose. And that will not make us safer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We need to ban them. This is not some 800 page bill, by the way. I’m going to read you the text of the bill in its entirety:

“No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

We should apply that policy here and make sure that when someone commits a violent crime like we saw, the heinous crime here in Northern Virginia over Ramadan, with a young 17-year-old woman beaten to death by a baseball bat, by someone who is here illegally, we need to cooperate with authorities. And that person needs to be deported. You raised DACA. I don't believe that people who were brought here by no choice of their own — my father came at the age of eight. I asked him one time, what were you thinking when you left that home in Ireland up in the mountains, and your mother and six children went into town to come to America...They didn’t make a choice, they should not be deported, but violent criminals should be deported and we should not have sanctuary cities in Virginia.

Ralph Northam: And we don't have sanctuary cities in Virginia. And let’s go back to that vote that I took on the floor of the Senate. It was an interesting day. It actually came up that a Republican voted in favor, and it created a tie. I was proud to break the tie, because we don't have a problem with sanctuary cities. Then they reconsidered the vote, went right back 5 minutes later, and he changed his vote, interestingly. And then you put out a press release like 5 or 10 minutes later. It was almost like, seemed to me, and I wasn’t just born yesterday, but seems like a little political ploy, another game and that is the problem with politics today. Games like that, Ed. No no hold on —

Ed Gillespie: It’s a simple answer here. You’re for sanctuary cities, and I’m against them.

On the Atlantic Coast Pipeline:

An issue that has deeply divided the Democrat base in Virginia is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which has been a major thorn in the side for Northam. Unfortunately for Virginians, Northam did so little to clarify his stance after he was awkwardly called out by moderator Chuck Todd.

You can watch the entire bit here (transcript below):

Question: Mr. Northam, you have said you would support the Atlantic Coast pipeline, that’s slated to run through Virginia, if it is deemed environmentally responsible. Now we know recently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said its environmental impact would be what they termed, “Less than significant.” So that appears to be the green light you’ve been looking for. So, will you say now, once and for all, that you support this pipeline?

Northam: Well I think Julie, first of all, we have to talk about economic development in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And as I said in my opening statement, our unemployment rate has gone to 3.8%. If you go to the Eastern Shore, where I’m from, or the South Side of Virginia or the Southwest, it is nowhere near 3.8%. How do we bring businesses, how do we bring manufacturers into rural Virginia? One of the top priorities that they have, Julie, is the cost of energy. So, we need to keep that in mind. As far as the pipelines, I have been very clear in what I have said. I believe that we should be environmentally responsible. I grew up on the Eastern Shore, the Chesapeake Bay was literally my back yard, and I have done a lot to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. We need to make sure that if these pipelines move forward, that the permitting process is in place and appropriate. We have talked about going from a blanket permit to a site-specific permit. I have said I will work with the DEQ, I will work with the Corps of Engineers. We will make sure that if the pipelines move forward, that they are done environmentally responsible and also taken into account people’s property rights. That is very important to me, as well , especially growing up on a farm. I don’t think it’s fair for the Lieutenant Governor or anybody in our position to usurp the powers of the DEQ and the Corps of Engineers, so I will plan to work with them. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that the pipelines, if they move forward, are done with transparency, that they’re done with science, and they’re done in a responsible way environmentally.

A few minutes later, Chuck Todd circled back to the question:

Chuck Todd: I want to follow up on the original question. I’m still not clear.  Do you support this pipeline or not? Is the DEQ now a new hurdle? I am just following up on this. I am not clear. Do you support this pipeline?

Ralph Northam: I have been clear as I can, Chuck, that is that the pipelines, if they move forward, if they are done environmentally responsibly, if they are done with transparency, if they are done with people’s property rights in mind, then I do support them. Yes.

Chuck Todd: So what FERC did, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—is that enough or not enough for you?

Ralph Northam: Well again, as I explained earlier, we are working with the DEQ on the permitting, working with the Corps of Engineers, and at the end of the day, yes. FERC will have the final decision. Because it is a federal decision.

Ed Gillespie: That was a "yes" or "no" answer.

According to the RGA:

With less than seven weeks to go until Election Day and Democrats already showing serious signs of division over pipeline issues, Northam’s support for these projects continues to draw anger from his left wing base, threatening his chances this November.