Ed Gillespie Visits the College Republicans


This Wednesday, Ed Gillespie, Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, visited the College Republicans at the University of Virginia.

Awkwardly, the event took place in the same room that the University Democrat’s “What Next” event had just taken place. Participants of both events had their own miniature “peaceful transition of power.”

If you didn’t know, Gillespie is pronounced GEH-LES-PEE and comes from the candidate’s fresh-off-the-boat, Irish father. Gillespie’s parents, Carroll and John, settled in Northern Philadelphia and opened a small store called J & C Grocery that Ed grew up working in. Gillespie cites his experiences in the store as fuel for his passion for small business entrepreneurship.

From job to job and being a first-generation college student, Gillespie eventually worked himself up to being Chair of the Republican National Committee and then Counselor to President George W. Bush.

Gillespie’s talk with the College Republicans centered on the poor economy in Virginia and how he plans to improve it.

“We’ve been facing a pretty stiff headwind for the past eight years,” he told the audience.

In his bleak painting, Gillespie cited a 1.2 billion-dollar deficit, two percent growth rate for the past year, and a failing appeal to businesses. All of these statistics are true, if not better than the current reality.

Use these links to see the current deficit, growth rate, and “America’s Top States for Business” information yourself.

During the event Gillespie failed to mention some long-term, good news in Virginia. He followed Donald Trump’s model of doomsday preaching, but missed some important facts. Yes, Virginia has fallen in CNBC’s “America’s Top States for Business,” but it still ranks number thirteen of fifty. Virginia also continues to hold an AAA bond rating and boasted a 7.1% job growth over the course of the Obama presidency.

Gillespie’s plan to improve the economy is driven by improving technical education, enabling small businesses to start and grow larger, and building new infrastructure. He is also calling for a stop of the “regulatory assault of coal” and a Republican sweep of statewide office.

After Gillespie finished explaining his plan, he opened up the floor for the audience to ask questions. Students asked questions about college affordability, the Right-to-Work law, and what conservatism actually stands for.

The evening ended when a brave first-year student brought up the topic of climate change. She explained that her hometown of Norfolk might be underwater in her lifetime due to coal usage and other causes of global warming. This question got some audience murmurs and snickers around the room before Gillespie could answer.

In response, he proposed an idea about storing CO2 for profit and that the carbon regulations against businesses are too harsh. These comments echoed his wishy-washy comments on climate change during a debate with incumbent senator Mark Warner (D) in July 2014 where Gillespie said, “I believe there is ample scientific evidence that contributes to climate change but I’m not entirely dismissive of those who have a different point of view. Norfolk is dealing with rising sea levels but people can debate what contributes to that.”

Tom Perriello, a Democratic candidate for governor, will be coming to UVA February 1 and the primaries will take place on June 13. According to a Quinnipiac University poll Gillespie is ahead of other GOP contenders at twenty-four percent.

Tyler Cox is a third-year who sends climate change e-mails to Donald Trump.