Three GOP hopefuls for the governorship of Virginia debated at Liberty University on Thursday night over who would be the best person for the job.
The GOP primary, which will be held on June 13th, includes former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart, and State Senator Frank Wagner.
Stewart spent the majority of his time criticizing the plans of Gillespie, who he calls “Establishment Ed,” while promising that he was the only candidate that could “deliver.”
Wagner, on the other hand, consistently referred to his 25 years of legislative experience, along with his successful Naval career, in an attempt to undermine the qualifications of the other candidates.
Throughout the exchange Gillespie remained calm and collected, referring to the audience several times throughout the evening.
The debate focused solely on economic issues, with Gillespie highlighting his 10 percent income tax cut, while Stewart championed his 17.4 percent overall tax cut proposal. Meanwhile, Wagner has said he would changing the gas tax structure and increasing it in order to raise money for transportation and broadband infrastructure.
Wagner said that the tax cuts would weren’t “realistic” and would cut into Virginia’s rainy day fund.
“What you just heard is ‘We’re going to cut, cut, cut,’” Wagner said. “… Really? It doesn’t work like that.”
Gillespie focused on the growth of small business, saying “We need to foster small business formation and small business expansion.”
Stewart pushed back against this, saying, “Ed’s plan doesn’t cut a single nickel in spending. Gillespie’s plan relies on projected growth, which is a “charade.”
“You don’t have to increase taxes, Ed, in order to solve our transportation problems,” Stewart said in a rebuttal to Wagner about tax increases under Former Governor Bob McDonnell.
Gillespie closed by saying that Virginia needs economic growth, adding that he is urgent and will not fail Virginians, will cut taxes, create more full time jobs, improve public schools and transportation. Gillespie said that he will be a “governor for all Virginians,” “honest, faithful, and ethical.”
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says he knows who he will support in the race, but will not announce his decision “publicly for now.”