Incumbent Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) and Senate- hopeful Ed Gillespie (R) met at a West Virginia resort to hold the first Virginia Senatorial debate. “PBS NewsHour” co-anchor Judy Woodruff facilitated the event, which turned out to be pretty interesting, contrary to what The Washington Post assumed would be a, “a largely sleepy contest.” The candidates mainly sparred over the issue of contraception, leading to a series of personal attacks.
On the topic of contraception, Gillespie claimed that he would make birth-control available without the use of prescriptions by making it a behind-the-counter drug. His take on this topic is that by making contraception a nonprescription drug, it becomes more accessible and less expensive. However, Cianti Stewart-Reid, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia validly points out that health care plans do not usually cover medication that does not require a prescription, actually making it more expensive, not less.
This topic in particular generated the most heated section of this debate as Sen. Warner fired shots at Gillespie’s position, claiming that Gillespie would seek to overthrow Roe v. Wade and that he supports personhood legislation, calling Gillespie a “partisan warrior.”
According to Sen. Mark Warner, “The last thing Washington needs is another partisan warrior.”
Ed Gillespie fired back claiming that Warner was “making up [his] views,” and noting that Warner has moved significantly to the left in the Senate.
The Roanoke College Poll determined that Warner is largely favored, being 25 points ahead of Gillespie. Ed Gillespie is an unfamiliar face and Republicans intend to use that aspect to their advantage by introducing him in a new and positive light.