Crime is likely to be a major issue in this year’s campaign for governor of Virginia, reports Stateline.org. Republican Jerry W. Kilgore and Democrat Timothy M. Kaine, campaigning in the rural western half of the state, will debate two longstanding issues: gun rights and the death penalty. Kilgore, a former state attorney general who grew up in the mountainous southwest corner of the state, portrays Kaine as a social liberal by tying him to gun-control groups. Kilgore questions whether the Democrat's moral opposition to capital punishment would cause him to impose a moratorium on executions if he is elected.
Kaine promises not to support any new gun-control laws in Virginia. He also says he will comply with death sentences. Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, a Virginian who advises Democrats on how to win rural votes, says: “It's the remnants of an agrarian economy. It's pure culture, and if someone fools with your gun, that goes right to the soul of Bubba.” Four years ago, Saunders helped the incumbent governor, Democrat Mark R. Warner, win a slim majority among rural voters.