Our politics are infected with hatred and polarization. 

In the upcoming election for governor, Virginia’s voters should elect Democrat Ralph Northam, a doctor with a cure to today's intolerance and corruption.

Ed Gillespie, his Republican opponent, claims he is for all Virginians, but his agenda and record say he is for himself.

Gillespie does not stand for Virginia’s lower class. He opposes Medicare expansion. Every day we do not expand Medicaid, 400,000 mostly lower-class Virginians go without access to affordable health care. Gillespie refused to take a stand on the different attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. We deserve to know if he will stand up to his party and fight for Virginians because it is the difference between life and death for many.

Gillespie does not stand for Virginia’s students. He has already accepted over $105,000 of campaign contributions from Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. He refuses to comment on whether or not he will fight DeVos on her disastrous roll backs on Title IX protections and regulations of the student-loan industry. According to his campaign finances, we can only assume that he will not stand up for us.

Gillespie does not stand for Virginian values. His fear-mongering, race-baiting ads have been widely denounced by his own party. Gillespie also attacks Governor McAuliffe’s Restoration of Rights, and this is utter hypocrisy. Gillespie himself received a second chance from the justice system after a DUI charge and a charge of possession for a controlled substance was expunged from his record after six months of community service. Why won’t Gillespie give this opportunity to others who have served their time? These are not the Virginian values that our governor should possess.

It is clear that Gillespie is not for Virginia. He is for himself.

We need a governor who will stand for all Virginians and unite the commonwealth rather than further divide it. That man is Dr. Ralph Shearer Northam.

Northam has lived a life of service as an Army doctor, a volunteer director of a children’s hospice network, a pediatric neurosurgeon, a professor and currently our 40th lieutenant governor.

Ralph understands that women’s rights are human rights, and vice versa. Northam is the only candidate that will protect the right to choose and Title IX protections.

As a veteran, Northam understands the sacrifice our service members give. This is why Northam helped pass policy that effectively ended veteran homelessness in the commonwealth. As governor, he will combat veteran suicide rates by expanding access to mental health care and reforming the Virginia healthcare system to increase choice for veterans. Northam will be a champion for Virginia’s military.

As a doctor, Northam understands the importance of affordable access to quality healthcare. As a state senator, Northam led the fight to ban smoking in restaurants. Northam is the only candidate to have a comprehensive plan that addresses the root problems and solutions to the opioid epidemic, which affects too many Virginians. He is also the only candidate to oppose the privatization of health care because he understands that it would disproportionately affect his lower-income patients.

As a professor, Northam believes that education is the pathway to achieving the American dream. Northam will break the school-to-prison pipeline in Virginia and replace it with a school-to-work pipeline by funding to higher education and vocational training. His plan would make education little to no cost for the first two years of college if students commit to working one year in Virginia. This would help increase workforce participation in the Commonwealth.

As a person, Northam understands respect. This means standing up against bigotry and racism in the commonwealth like we saw in Charlottesville. Northam is the only candidate in this race to say the group of neo-Nazis who marched on Charlottesville did not have “good people.”

Northam is the doctor with a cure for the division and bigotry present in our Commonwealth and around the country today. Therefore, the University of Richmond College Democrats wholeheartedly and proudly endorse Dr. Ralph Northam for Governor of Virginia.

Contact University of Richmond College Democrats President Shannon Kane at shannon.kane@richmond.edu.

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