Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates squared off in their last debate last night. Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine repeated familiar themes in their debate, which was the only one televised statewide. Kilgore pressed Kaine on Kaine’s prior support for increasing the gas tax and for Kaine’s support of the $1.38 billion dollar tax increase that Democratic Governor Mark Warner pushed through the (Republican-controlled) state legislature. Kilgore said the tax hike was unnecessary, while Kaine said it was needed to fund education, health care, and transportation projects. Kilgore repeatedly called Kaine a “liberal” who would raise taxes again and try to overturn the death penalty. The devout Catholic Kaine, who has done missionary work, said his personal opposition to the death penalty would not affect the way he would govern the state. Kilgore also called for ending the car tax, a perennial issue here in Virginia.
For his part, Kaine ran close to the record of popular governor Mark Warner and said he would continue the Warner legacy of centrist Democratic government. He attacked Kilgore for not being specific in many of his proposals.
With a month to go the race is very close. Kilgore leads Kaine in the polls by about 4 percent on average.