Conservative Group Goes After Northam's Opposition to School Choice

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam holds a thumbs up during a campaign event at the Greater Richmond Convention Center October 19, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. Northam is running against Republican Ed Gillespie to be the next governor of Virginia. / Getty Images
Getty Images
November 3, 2017

A conservative group is seizing on Democrat Ralph Northam's opposition to pro-school choice legislation in recent years, as it makes its closing argument for why Virginia voters shouldn't put Northam in the governor's mansion.

Americans for Prosperity is using new findings from the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis showing vast inequality in educational opportunities for students in high poverty areas to direct attention to Northam's votes against bills that would have increased school choice.

"No one deserves to be trapped in a failing school simply because of where they live," said J.C. Hernandez, the group's Virginia state director. "Sadly, Ralph Northam has made multiple, decisive votes to block more choices for our students."

"Students and their families deserve chances to choose an education that works best for them," Hernandez added, "but a Northam administration would do just the opposite. That’s a major reason we’re urging Virginians to vote against him."

One of the votes AFP references is Northam's 2015 tie-breaking vote against a bill that would have made it easier for disabled students to get school vouchers. The group has put out ads criticizing Northam for the vote.

In the ad, a vice principal at a school for disabled students slams Northam for his vote.

"Ralph Northam blocked educational options for students with disabilities," the vice principal says. "If you work with children, how can you turn the kids away?"

Northam, currently Virginia's lieutenant governor, is facing off with Republican Ed Gillespie in the November 7 election.