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2014 Midterm Candidate Profiles

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Election day is this Tuesday. Below, read candidate profiles for the three Senate candidates vying for the Virginia seat. Additionally, find information about the two candidates competing in the Charlottesville-area House of Representatives race.

Ed Gillespie (Republican), U.S. Senate Candidate

Career Background

A former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Gillespie has also served as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. He was Counselor to the President in the last 18 months of the Bush Administration, and before that co-founded a bipartisan public affairs firm, Quinn Gillespie and Associates. He assisted in drafting the Contract with America, a document created during the 1994 Congressional election which helped Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives.

Education Policy

Gillespie proposes less federal spending on education. He proposes that other programs, like Title I-A, should be considered for block grants if they show improvement to the Department of Education. Gillespie strongly opposes the Department of Education’s Post Secondary Institutions Ratings System, an initiative which aims to assess the performance of institutions of higher education across the board. Gillespie said he strongly supports reforms to the federal accreditation system, which is closely related to federal aid eligibility.

Economic Policy

Gillespie said he believes oil, coal and natural gas production, including deep sea drilling off the coast of Virginia, will create new jobs and lower gas prices and utility bills. Gillespie called for a reduction in the marginal business tax rate and also supports a Balanced Budget Amendment, which would not allow the federal government to spend more than its revenue intake.

Foreign Policy

Gillespie said he believes America is not taking enough initiative toward global leadership. He has stated the United States could be more active in the battle against Islamic state terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria and that President Barack Obama was wrong to rule out ground troops in both missions.

Health Care Policy

Gillespie firmly opposes the Affordable Care Act, calling for a replacement of the act with smaller market-based reforms. Gillespie’s plan centers around the creation of an individual health insurance tax credit, which he intends to make accessible to anyone who purchases health insurance in the individual market. Gillespie categorizes the tax credits into three groups: $1,200 a year for those under 35; $2,100 per year for those between 35 and 49; $3,000 per year for those older than 50.

Other Notable Positions

Gillespie said he would not vote in favor of treaties which would cede firearm regulation to international bodies like the United Nations and that he is against any effort to curtail the right to keep and bear arms. Gillespie also opposes taxpayer funding of abortion and condemns the abandonment of its explicit prohibition in federal law through the Affordable Care Act.

Mark Warner (Democrat), U.S. Senate Candidate

Career Background

A graduate of the George Washington University and Harvard Law School, Warner made many attempts at small business entrepreneurship — he was an early investor in Nextel — before taking office as Governor of Virginia in 2001. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008. 

Education Policy

Warner is a proponent of education reform and, as Governor in 2004, his tax budget reforms provided an increase in K-12 educational support. He introduced the Know Before You Go Act, which aims to allow students to better compare the costs of a college education, and he is a strong proponent of legislation aimed at reducing student debt burden. Warner said he also supports the DREAM Act, which would expand educational access to young undocumented immigrants.

Economic Policy

In efforts to support small businesses, Warner has supported legislation such as the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, the JOBS Act, and the Startup Act. He also supports efforts to increase investment in infrastructure as well as numerous initiatives to bring jobs to Virginia, such as relocating the FBI headquarters.

Foreign Policy

Warner said he believes that all military options must stay on the table to eliminate ISIS. He has assisted with progress in U.S.-India relations in his time in office and supports U.S.-Israel relations, calling Israel the United States’ strongest and closest ally in the region.

Health Care Policy

Though Warner broadly supports the Affordable Care Act, he holds that it is not perfect and has proposed changes to make it more flexible and affordable. He said these proposals would provide more options for state health plans and make it less burdensome for small businesses to get their employees health coverage.

Other Notable Positions

Warner is a strong supporter of marriage equality. He opposes partial privatization of Social Security and is in favor of more restrictive firearm regulations.

Robert Sarvis (Libertarian), U.S. Senate Candidate

Career Background

Sarvis graduated from Harvard University in 1998 with a degree in mathematics, and later pursued a law degree, graduating from NYU Law School in 2005. He has worked as a lawyer, math teacher and small-business owner. He ran his first campaign in 2011 for Virginia State Senate, and ran for governor of Virginia last year.

Education Policy

Sarvis maintains that the federal government should not have any involvement in education policy, and that states should hold this control. He said he believes federal education policies have led to strategized standardized testing and limited the quality of education.

Economic Policy

Sarvis advocates for open, competitive markets and low taxes. He said he supposed broad deregulation across multiple industries. Foreign Policy Though Sarvis advocates for expanding international trade, he holds that the government should not be involved in military conflict over disputes which do not directly involve the United States.

Health Care Policy

Sarvis said the government has restricted entry into health care professions and advocates for non-interference by the government and simultaneous large increases in the number of health care professionals and providers.

Other Notable Positions

Sarvis is a strong proponent for the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage. He also strongly opposes unlawful governmental surveillance of Americans and the prevalent militarization of the police.

Robert Hurt (Republican), House of Representatives Candidate

Career Background

Hurt served as a chief assistant to Commonwealth’s Attorney for Pittsylvania County from 1996 to 1999. Hurt practiced law in Chatham, Virginia from 1999 to 2010, and has served in Congress since defeating Democratic incumbent Tom Perriello in 2010.

Education Policy

Hurt said he supports states and localities having more power in public education. He has said he intends to address issues he sees in the “No Child Left Behind” Act by granting more flexibility and authority to state and local governments.

Economic Policy

Hurt has introduced the Small Business Capital Access and Job Preservation Act, the Audit Integrity and Job Protection Act, the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act and the Small Manufacturer Protection Act. He said he wants to reduce government regulations for small businesses, lower taxes and cut spending to stimulate job growth.

Foreign Policy

Hurt said he aims to secure America’s borders, limiting the flow of undocumented immigrants. Hurt also said he supports a strong American-Israeli alliance and more sanctions on Iran.

Health Care Policy

Hurt has advocated for market-oriented replacements for health care laws. He voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and helped repeal the 1099 provision, which would have required companies to report more transactions to the Internal Revenue Service.

Other Notable Positions

Hurt is a strong advocate for second amendment rights. He is a cosponsor of the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which allows any person with a valid state-issued concealed carry permit to carry a concealed firearm in any state that issues concealed firearm permits, or that does not prohibit the carrying of concealed firearms. He is also a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which works for the rights of hunters and anglers.

Lawrence Gaughan (Democrat), House of Representatives Candidate

Career Background

Lawrence Gaughan is the founder of the non-partisan, non-profit organization GOV360, which aims to reach out to non-voters to improve government participation. Gaughan is also a credited actor, director and producer in the entertainment industry, and has been a trade union member in the Screen Actors Guild since 1996. Between 2011 and 2013, Gaughan attended Pepperdine University, where he received his master’s degree in Social Change Theory and graduated with honors.

Education Policy

Gaughan said he will propose, co-sponsor, and vote for legislation that reduces costs and eases some of the burden of debt on college students. He said he will advocate reducing class sizes, raising teacher pay and completing the transition from “No Child Left Behind.” He has said the country needs to make sure schools are preparing students for college or a good trade industry.

Economic Policy

If elected, Gaughan said he would propose increasing the minimum wage to $12 an hour and focus on creating jobs in construction, manufacturing and production. He said he supports investments in education and health care to enable the United States to hire more teachers and nurses. He holds that increasing public and private sector union labor would better the economy and improve the position of the middle class.

Foreign Policy

Gaughan said he believes in intervening in the affairs of other countries only in matters of national security, human rights violations or when specifically asked by the international community. He opposes military action in Iraq, and maintains that a majority of U.S. troops abroad should be brought back home. To cut military costs, he said he believes the government should eliminate ongoing fraud by military contractors which he said have cost taxpayers more than $1.1 trillion.

Health Care Policy

Gaughan said he believes access to affordable health care is a fundamental right. He supports the Affordable Care Act, which was passed by Congress and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Other Notable Positions

Gaughan said he supports restrictions on assault rifles, but holds that law-abiding citizens should have a right to firearms. He is a proponent of same-sex marriage rights, and said he wants to see congressional effort toward more environmental preservation actions.

The Senate candidates far-outstripped House candidates in campaign fundraising this election season — with Mark Warner, D-VA, coming out as the clear revenue leader. (All information obtained via the Federal Elections Commission; Graphic by Anne Owen)

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