Republican Ed Gillespie leads Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in a prospective 2017 race for governor, according to a recent University of Mary Washington poll.
But the survey by UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies found that both men share one thing in common: They are largely unknown to Virginia voters, even though Gillespie lost a closely fought Senate election in 2014 against Democrat Mark Warner, and Northam won a statewide election in 2013.
“Both candidates have an opportunity to be governor,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science at UMW and director of the center. “With so many voters uncertain of what to make of either candidate, there will be a lot of efforts to persuade voters between now and November 2017.”