Les Smith Reports: Ralph Northam in the race for Lt. Governor

Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-22 22:04:39-04

The race for Lieutenant Governor rarely gets much attention in Virginia. But if you care about issues like abortion, education and voter ID laws, then you need to care about this race.

Votes on all three of those issues were decided by tie-breakers in the state Senate, which is evenly divided 20-20.

The Lieutenant Governor casts that tie-breaking vote. And for the first time in 28 years, that vote will be cast by a man from Hampton Roads – either Republican E.W. Jackson of Chesapeake, or Ralph Northam of Norfolk.

In the often loud world of politics, Ralph Northam might be called the quiet man.

“I’m a moderate person. I like to bring people together, talk about what our challenges are and then find solutions. That’s my reputation,” Northam says.

Northam grew up on the Eastern Shore, served as an Army doctor, and still sees patients in his Norfolk office.

He’s conservative enough that Republicans once courted him to join their party. But he has a progressive streak on social issues.

“Legislators, most of whom are men by the way, shouldn’t be telling women what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their bodies. The discrimination against the LGBT community needs to stop,” he says.

Northam’s healthcare background also extends to other issues.

“The smoking ban in restaurants was something that we really had to work with both sides of the aisle. And that’s something that has made Virginia safer for our children and our families,” he says.

As Lieutenant Governor, Northam says he would push for expanding Medicaid and extending Pre-K education statewide.

What he wouldn’t do in our interviews is criticize his opponent, despite their sharp differences on social issues.

“I’m in a position where I can work with both sides of the aisle and really do what’s in the best interests for Virginia. And I think that’s the biggest difference between the two of us,” he says.

If Ralph Northam is the quiet candidate, his opponent, E.W. Jackson, is just the opposite. In fact, they are also as different as they can be on the important issues.

NewsChannel 3 will speak with him in the next few days.