We continue our Meet the Candidates series with a Democrat who’s already serving Virginia in another role. Capitol Bureau reporter Evanne Armour sits down with Ralph Northam to see why he wants to be your next governor.
RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Ralph Northam wants to go from lieutenant governor to governor. The Virginia Military Institute grad spent eight years in the U.S. Army and more than 25 as a pediatric neurologist.
Northam says he’s been able to bring his experience in health care to policy making.
“One of the things that we were able to do just after being elected to the Senate, we passed a smoking ban in restaurants in Virginia,” said Northam. “That’s made it a lot healthier for our families, and that’s something I’m very proud of.”
Considering his medical background, it’s no surprise he’s pushing for affordable and quality health care.
“No Virginian should be one medical illness away from financial demise,” he said.
Northam says he’s also been fighting for the last 10 years for women to have access to reproductive health care.
Another key component to his campaign is economic opportunity for all Virginians.
He says the first thing he’d do as governor is promote economic development. Part of that is training the workforce for 21st century jobs.
“If you talk to the average person on the street, they want a job that they can support themselves and their families with. They want to make sure that they have access to a world class education system for their children,” he said. “And they want to live in safe communities where there’s not guns on every street.”
Gun safety has been a focus in Northam’s campaign. The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence recently endorsed him.
Northam has emphasized the need for universal background checks, reinstating Virginia’s one-gun-a-month policy and utilizing smart gun technology.
His potential predecessor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is just one of several high-profile democrats to endorse him.
Northam says it’s his experience and relationships with legislators on both sides of the aisle that sets him apart in the race.
“We don’t always agree, but the Virginia way is to sit down, bring people to the table, agree to disagree and then at the end of the day do what’s in the best interest of the commonwealth of Virginia,” he said. “And that’s what I bring to the commonwealth of Virginia.”
Northam hopes it’s enough to bring supporters to the polls for the primary election June 13.
BORN: Nassawadox, VA
LIVES: Norfolk, VA
COLLEGE: Virginia Military Institute, Eastern Virginia Medical School
FAMILY: Wife Pam, two children
MENTOR: Sen. Tim Kaine
CAMPAIGN SLOGAN: “Economic opportunity for all Virginians”