Commonwealth of Virginia

In the open race to serve as the Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, lawyer and businessman Justin Fairfax (D) faces Senator Jill Vogel (R-VA 27th). Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) is not seeking reelection (he stands as the Democratic nominee for governor).

The office of lieutenant governor is established by the Constitution of Virginia, and the office holder’s primary duty is to serve as the president of the Senate of Virginia. The lieutenant governor may vote in the senate only to break ties. In addition, the lieutenant governor is first in the line of gubernatorial succession, and would become governor in the event of the governor’s death, resignation, or removal. Because Virginia governors may only serve one consecutive term, the office of lieutenant governor often serves as a “stepping stone” toward the governor’s mansion.

Virginia lieutenant governors must be at least thirty years old, citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and have been a resident and registered voter in the commonwealth for five years preceding the date of the election. They are elected to four-year terms and there are no term limits.

The Senate of Virginia is made up of senators elected from forty districts across the commonwealth. The Republican Party holds a narrow majority with twenty-one seats. The Democratic Party holds nineteen seats.

Justin Fairfax (D)

Justin Fairfax

Justin Fairfax (D) stands as the Democratic Party nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

Fairfax earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from Columbia Law School. He has worked as a lawyer in numerous capacities in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. He served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and as the Deputy Coordinator of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. He co-owns a dentistry business with his wife, Doctor Cerina Fairfax.

Fairfax grew up in the inner city of Washington, DC. His mother, against difficult odds, put all four of her children through college, and two of them, including Fairfax, through law school. Fairfax says that he is “determined to re-pay his spiritual debt by dedicating himself to public service.”

If elected, Fairfax promises to focus on economic growth and opportunity, improving our education system, improving access to healthcare, curbing gun violence, protecting the environment, and protecting the “rights of all Virginians.” These areas of focus sound lovely, but, unfortunately, Fairfax is basically in lock-step with the national Democratic Party on these and other issues.

On economic growth, he supports raising the minimum wage, even though any sane economist will tell you that would depress growth and increase unemployment. On education, he wants to “restructure and lower” student debt even though students take on their debts voluntarily. On healthcare, he wants to accept the federal Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as ObamaCare) despite the many strings that are attached. He wants to curb gun violence by imposing new, unnecessary restrictions on innocent Virginians’ right to keep and bear arms. He wants to “address climate change” and “rising sea levels,” despite a lack of credible scientific evidence that these are even occurring. And he repeats the long-discredited lie that “women make only roughly seventy-nine cents for every dollar earned by men.” If that were true, it would be a serious problem . . . but it isn’t true.

When it comes to “protecting the rights of all Virginians,” Fairfax, apparently with no sense of irony, lauds his support for America’s leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. Think about that for a moment. Abortion facilities are only able to operate legally in this country because our laws explicitly do not protect the rights of all people. We have declared a certain class of people, based on an attribute beyond their control (age), to be non-persons whom we may destroy at will. Another group of eugenicists once used the term “life unworthy of life” (“Lebensunwertes Leben”) to describe their victims, who they also declared to be non-persons (“Untermensch”) on the basis of attributes beyond their control (race or disability).

I guess Fairfax thinks, paraphrasing George Orwell, that some Virginians are more equal than others.

Jill Vogel (R)

Jill Vogel

Senator Jill Vogel (R-VA 27th) stands as the Republican Party nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

Vogel earned a bachelor’s degree in government and religion from the College of William and Mary, and a law degree from DePaul University. Vogel has served as Deputy General Counsel in the Department of Energy, staff counsel for the Republican National Convention, and Deputy Chief Counsel and then Chief Counsel for the Republican National Committee. She also started her own law firm that specializes in charitable and nonprofit organizations, campaign finance, and ethics.

In 2007, Vogel narrowly won election to represent the twenty-seventh district in the Virginia Senate. She won reelection in a 2011 landslide, and again when she ran unopposed in 2015. She is currently about halfway through her third term.

If elected, Vogel promises to focus on growing the economy, increasing transparency in government, supporting public safety officials and first responders, enforcing immigration laws, improving education opportunities, improving women’s health and safety protections, and upholding human rights and civil liberties—including the fundamental right to life, religious liberty, the right to keep and bear arms, and equal protection under the law.

Though the actual policy details are scant (aren’t they always?), Vogel clearly has a greater grasp of these and other issues than her opponent. On the economy, Vogel seeks to reduce taxes, reduce unnecessary regulation, and improve our transportation infrastructure. On education, she proposes increasing competition and empowering parents to choose how to educate their children. She has worked hard to step-up enforcement of immigration law and enact protections for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.

Most importantly, Vogel has been a tireless supporter of human rights during her time in the Virginia Senate. She is one of the most consistently pro-life legislators in the General Assembly, and recognizes that the foremost purpose of government is to protect the life, liberty, and property of all its people. She has worked to improve safety regulations and informed consent at medical facilities that provide abortions. She understands and supports the freedom of religion and the right to keep and bear arms.

Though I would like to see more depth to what she intends to do as Lieutenant Governor, I am pleased that Vogel is focusing on issues that are important and really matter—human rights, the economy, public safety, etc. There is no nonsense about sea-level rise or an imaginary wage gap here.

Conclusion

Both Justin Fairfax (D) and Senator Jill Vogel (R-VA 27th) are hard-working, intelligent, accomplished people, and I suspect that both have long careers in public service ahead of them. Given that the office of lieutenant governor is fairly inconsequential in Virginia, it might be tempting to just flip a coin. That, however, would be a bad strategy.

The lieutenant governor serves as the tie-breaking vote in the event of a tie in the Virginia Senate. Though the Republican Party has a narrow majority today, this may change due to deaths, resignations, or removals of senators. It will almost certainly change when members of the senate stand for election in two years. Additionally, the lieutenant governor is first in the line of succession in the event that the governor dies, resigns, or is removed from office. Like the office of the Vice President of the United States, the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia is unimportant . . . except when, on rare occasion, it becomes very important.

And if that wasn’t reason enough to take this race seriously, let’s not forget that whoever wins is very likely to stand as a candidate for Governor of Virginia in four years.

Fairfax has not made a compelling case for himself. His positions are almost entirely in-line with those of the national Democratic Party, which has shifted far to the left in recent years and abandoned any dedication it may have had to human rights and civil liberties. Fairfax makes explicit his antagonism to the right to life and the right to keep and bear arms. He likely holds similarly antagonistic positions on the freedom of religion. Many of his other policy positions are ill-advised or based on fabrications and falsehoods.

The choice is clear. I endorse the election of Senator Jill Vogel as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.