HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY and Associated Press) – Three local political experts say the immediate future of Hampton Roads could vary greatly depending on who wins the presidential election. 10 On Your Side asked them where the candidates stand when it comes to our military presence, government services, wages and the Port of Virginia.
Candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have championed a robust military, but want to cut spending. Those reductions could affect local industry connected to defense, as well as other government agencies.
“The place where it would hit is not so much on the uniformed military, and I don’t think on veterans,” said Eric Patterson, Dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University. “It would be a reduction in contracting services.”
Patterson says Democrat Hillary Clinton has also shown intentions to leave our uniformed military alone, but future contracts could be affected. “I think she would continue to be supportive of past commitments – in other words, towards ship contracts that have already been let and things for Greater Hampton Roads.”
Political science professor Carol Pretlow of Norfolk State University says Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State should make her realize the importance of the military to Hampton Roads. “She understands the connection between our representation internationally and the connection with the Defense Department.”
Patterson says Senator Bernie Sanders would shift money away from the military to pay for entitlement programs. “Hampton Roads, I think, would be very, very much in trouble when it comes to military spending if Sanders were elected president.”
When it comes to jobs, Pretlow hears about it in her own Norfolk State classroom. “They tell me I can’t find a job, or I’m working at MacArthur Mall and I’m having trouble juggling the schedule.”
The issue has become part of the larger minimum wage debate – Sanders and Clinton support a hike, while Trump and Cruz argue a $15 an hour minimum could hurt competition and kill jobs. Ohio Governor John Kasich says it should be left up to the states.
Kasich gets points from all three analysts for his fiscal record and avoiding personal campaign attacks. “He’s very focused on specific issues and he isn’t getting into personalities,” said Pretlow.
Patterson is impressed with Kasich’s conservative fiscal record as both a Congressman and now a Governor in Ohio. “This is a rust belt state that’s been a miracle recovery.”
Regent Economics Professor Brian Baugus looked at the tax plans of each of the five candidates when it comes to more take-home pay, and likes what Ted Cruz has in mind as far as cutting taxes. He worries about Sanders’ plan for increasing corporate taxes, which Baugus says would reduce entrepreneurship, drive up prices and reduce consumption.
Baugus has also analyzed where the candidates stand as far as trade, especially with the Port of Virginia and its three terminals here in Hampton Roads. He says Trump’s rhetoric shows he doesn’t fully grasp the importance of trade to a port region like ours.
“When he talks about winning trade – you don’t win trade,” Baugus said. “When you go to Wal-Mart, do you think I’ve won, I’ve beaten Wal-Mart?”
A recent William & Mary study showed that our port terminals are worth $60 billion to Virginia’s economy. Patterson and Baugus agree democrats Clinton and Sanders could have a negative effect on the port by increasing regulations on certain industries, especially coal. About 48 million tons of coal passes through the port each year.
“Both might unleash an even more empowered EPA with increasingly interventionist policies. It’s hard for me to imagine how that’s good for the economy of the port or for Virginians,” Patterson said.
Baugus says increased regulation would be like the umpire trying to play the game. “For the government to get into the idea of picking winners and losers is a very dangerous place to be. It doesn’t have a real good track record in that.”
Meanwhile, two of the GOP candidates are teaming up to block businessman Donald Trump. The presidential campaigns of Cruz and Kasich say they are launching collaborative strategies to deprive Trump the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination.
Both Cruz and Kasich’s campaigns released statements Sunday saying that Cruz will focus his campaign resources on winning enough delegates in Indiana, while Kasich will focus his efforts on western states including Oregon and New Mexico.
Trump, the current front-runner, needs 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination. If he falls short, the Republican convention in July will evolve into a rare contested convention.