Republican gubernatorial candidates debate in Lynchburg

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WRIC) — The three republican hopefuls in Virginia’s gubernatorial race met in Lynchburg on Thursday for a debate at Liberty University.

The hour-long event started at 7 p.m. State Sen. Frank Wagner, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie took the stage.

The candidates were asked about a variety of topics from gun control to illegal immigration. They had to give 60-second answers and were each given a handful of rebuttal opportunities.

The topic the moderators and candidates spent the most time on was the economy.

Wagner emphasized the need for career technical education to keep jobs and the economy “rolling.” He also said Virginia must invest in transportation and broadband access.

“Business and government need to work together,” said Wagner.

Stewart pointed out the need to be more attractive than surrounding states.

“North Carolina is eating our lunch,” said Stewart.

He says North Carolina has been “ratcheting down” on spending and taxes. He says Virginia needs “meaningful spending cuts.”

Gillespie highlighted his plan to cut individual income tax rates by 10 percent.

“Our rates were set in 1972. They have not come down in 45 years and other states around us have been moving,” said Gillespie.

But his plan was met with critique by the two other candidates on the stage.

Wagner said the proposal would “kill us” in making critical investments needed for the economy. Stewart called it a “charade.”

But Gillespie says his plan will make Virginia first in the nation in job creation and economic growth.

While Thursday’s event was for the GOP, there are two democrats in the larger fight for governor — Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello.

Want to re-watch the entire debate? Check out the video below, courtesy Liberty University.

App users click here to watch. 

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to