An article by Max Thornberry published in The Northern Virginia Daily
FRONT ROYAL — As campaign season begins to wrap up, April Moore, D-Basye, appears comfortable in her embattled position running against long-time Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg.
On Thursday evening, Moore continued her fight to displace the conservative Republican she ran against in 2015. Moore, who was raised in a conservative home and said she lives her life with, what her parents would call “conservative” values, said she was running because Obenshain has shown himself to be a “party man” rather than a representative of the people in Warren County.
Moore came out of the gates swinging Thursday evening in a candidate forum hosted by the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, staking out her positions on workers’ rights, climate change and affordable health care in her opening statement.
Obenshain said he felt confident he has represented the people in Warren County well, working hard to solve problems in Richmond.
“One of the dirty little secrets about this process is that we work pretty well across party lines on a lot of issues,” he said.
Obenshain and Moore took multiple jabs at each other, picking on the other’s commitment to respective conservative and liberal values.
Divides in core political beliefs were reflected in the different answers to a question about the two most important issues facing Warren County.
Moore didn’t hesitate to say the No. 1 issue facing Virginia as a whole is climate change, saying it is a “crisis” that Virginia has done “next to nothing” to do anything about. Moore also began to touch on the importance of health care before her time was cut short.
Obenshain responded with the twin issues of jobs and the economy. Historically low unemployment rates are a double-edged sword for Warren County that is struggling to attract new businesses for lack of workers. Obenshain said he wants to focus on improving training for people who grew up in Warren County to give them the tools to stay local instead of leaving the area, or the state, in search of work.
Obenshain talked up Virginia’s recent return in an NBC News Poll to the top spot as a place to do business in the country. Moore responded that while Virginia ranks No. 1 in places to do business, it ranks No. 50 in terms of quality for workers.
Moore took her time laying out her arguments for increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 — over time, she said, not overnight — and repealing Virginia’s Right-to-Work laws.
No other issue, Moore said, divides the two candidates more than their beliefs about the importance of unions.
“Right-to-Work is a con job,” Moore said. “When unions were stronger, workers did better … workers need a union so the playing field can be leveled and they can have bargaining power.”
Partisan issues divide the two candidates but, Obenshain said, most of the problems addressed in Richmond are “just problems” not partisan problems. Different approaches to governance give voters a choice, he said, but more partisanship in Richmond is not his end goal.
“I don’t believe we need more partisan, divisive rhetoric in Richmond,” he said. “I believe we need to work together in order to solve problems with real people.”
– Contact Max Thornberry at firstname.lastname@example.org