June 12, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Virginia Democrats nominate statewide candidates
Terry McAuliffe, Christopher Schaffer, Levar Stoney, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Terry McAuliffe (center) at an Equality Virginia fundraiser in Arlington, Va. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Virginia Democrats on Tuesday officially nominated three men as their party’s statewide candidates.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, state Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) defeated former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra by a 54-46 percent margin in the lieutenant governor primary. State Sen. Mark Herring (D-Leesburg) defeated former federal prosecutor Justin Fairfax by a 52-48 percent margin in the attorney general contest during the election that saw very low voter turnout across the commonwealth.

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe will face off against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for governor in the Nov. 5 general election after he ran unopposed in the primary.

“I look forward to coming together to ensure the Democratic ticket wins a clean sweep in November,” Chopra said in a statement on Tuesday night. “The work to bring fairness, equality, and opportunity to Virginia continues.”

“I look forward to supporting Terry McAuliffe and the rest of our very strong Democratic ticket in November,” Fairfax added.

Northam will face E.W. Jackson in the general election, while Herring will square off against state Sen. Mark Obenshein (R-Harrisonburg.)

“Today, Virginia Democrats nominated three individuals that share a common bond: a clear history of support for policies — including higher taxes, big government programs and anti-competitive regulations — that will move Virginia backwards,” Cuccinelli’s campaign spokesperson, Dave Rexrode, said in a statement after the polls closed.

Virginia Democrats and LGBT rights advocates have repeatedly criticized Cuccinelli and the GOP ticket for their opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples and other gay-specific issues.

Cuccinelli in March filed an ultimately unsuccessful challenge to a three-judge panel’s ruling that overturned Virginia’s sodomy law. He also spoke at an anti-gay marriage event at a Manassas church last October to which the Washington Blade was denied access.

Jackson, who founded Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, has previously compared gay men to pedophiles and described them as psychologically, mentally and emotionally “very sick people.” Equality Virginia pointed out to reporters last month after the Republican Party of Virginia officially nominated their statewide ticket that Obenshein opposed a measure a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee tabled in February that would have banned discrimination against LGBT state employees.

Obenshein also sponsored a measure that Gov. Bob McDonnell signed in March that bans public universities from denying recognition and funding to student groups that discriminate in their membership based on sexual orientation and other categories that federal law does not protect.

“Virginia Democrats have nominated a mainstream equality-oriented ticket, setting up a stark contrast with the most anti-gay Republican ticket in Virginia history,” state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) told the Blade on Tuesday. “Cuccinelli, Jackson and Obenshain have a clear record of division, derision and denial.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • This is the most important portion of the article:

    “Virginia Democrats nominated three individuals that share a common bond: a clear history of support for policies — including higher taxes, big government programs and anti-competitive regulations — that will move Virginia backwards.”

    We simply can’t keep judging candidates solely on LGBT issues anymore.

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