LYNCHBURG, Virginia — Jill Vogel, a Virginia GOP state senator and the party’s nominee for Lieutenant Governor in the upcoming November 2017 general elections, told Breitbart News exclusively that the fate of her state and quite literally the nation’s trajectory hangs in the balance in this important election coming up.
“It is not just important. It is beyond critical,” Vogel said in an interview here at Liberty University off the stage at the Vines Center. “We are playing for all the marbles in Virginia right now, this election, this time. Because we are setting not just Virginia but the country on a trajectory for economic prosperity, economic freedom, healthcare freedom, and basically viability across the board on every single issue that matters to people across this country. If you look at what Virginians care about right now, the single biggest issue is healthcare. It goes back to the issue of how my opponent has been taken off of campaign flyers that the Democrats are circulating because he has gone all out for the Bernie [Sanders] plan that is not sustainable in Virginia and is not where the country. So I would say that all eyes are on Virginia for a very good reason and that is if you want us to survive and continue to have an economy where you can get jobs, we can have a workforce that’s sustainable for the longterm, we can have education that survives, we can crank out young people who are job-ready. We have to have Republicans win in 2017.”
Vogel’s exclusive interview with Breitbart News came after she delivered an address during Wednesday morning’s convocation at Liberty University here in the Vines Center. Every week, three times a week, the thousands of students at Liberty University attend convocation—an hour-or-so-long spiritual event focused on prayer complete with speeches and performances. Regularly, political leaders journey down to Lynchburg to speak. It’s where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), in early 2015, launched his presidential campaign. Nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham stopped here last week. And now Vogel delivered a 10-minute uplifting speech on the main stage in the house the late great Jerry Falwell built.
“In 20 days from today, God’s will will be done in the Commonwealth of Virginia in an election where I will be standing for Lieutenant Governor and all of you will go vote for governor and attorney general as well,” Vogel said on stage. “God’s will will be done in my life and my family’s life and I’ve certainly worked really, really hard around the Commonwealth of Virginia to reach out to people and talk about issues that matter—issues that matter to you and to your families. It doesn’t seem very right to give a political speech, so I think what I will do is just tell you a few things I would want you to know about me—and that is I’m a mom and a wife, and that’s the most important thing in my life for sure.”
The thousands-strong Liberty University crowd cheered.
“My great dream was to be either a journalist or a lawyer, that’s what I wanted to do with my life,” Vogel continued in her speech. “At some point when I was in college, I was in college at William and Mary, hey—I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, anyone from the Shenandoah Valley? I had to take a ‘bubble test,’ you know what that is when they help you decide what you want to do when you grew up? I took the bubble test and you know what the bubble test said? I should either go into the ministry or be a social worker. I remember thinking, ‘that’s not what I want to do,’ although there were people in my family who wanted me to do both. But I’ll tell you, of all the things in my life that prepared me for a life of public service including that tiny little nudge toward ministry and social work, all the things that prepared me for that prepared me to be where I am right now. God works in your life really in interesting ways. So I did, as I mentioned before, I got married. I became a lawyer—I’m an ethics lawyer. I built a practice that’s now become nationally recognized around this country fighting for nonprofits and charities and I’m very proud to say that when the Obama administration and their IRS went after conservative groups around this country trying to prevent them from exercising their free speech rights and talking about things like religious liberty, my firm and I led that fight and we won. I carried that fight on in the legislature and every single year have fought for the protection of religious liberty. If we win, I will carry on that fight I promise you—I’ve done it for 10 years in the Senate of Virginia.”
She discussed how she worked in the George W. Bush administration’s Department of Energy “working on regulatory reform and pushing back on big government, which is all of our obligation: To keep government out of your life. Keep it small. Government should know its place.”
“For 10 years, I’ve been working in the Senate of Virginia to make Virginia a well-managed state, to work on our budget, to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves, to fight for the disability community, to fight for women against domestic violence, to fight for those with autism, to fight for public safety, a whole litany of issues that are really, really important to me personally, and now I’m running for Lieutenant Governor to carry that fight on and it gives a statewide platform to so many things that we need to accomplish and it makes me proud to really have had this amazing opportunity,” Vogel said. “But I will tell you one thing that I’m extra honored to do and this is really personal to me is that I have never attended a Liberty University convocation. For me, that is special and personal because campaigns and public service are meaningful in so many ways. You want it to mean something. Whether you win or lose, you want to have brought issues to the forefront that sometimes people don’t pay attention to and constituent service you spend time on which oh by the way ends up being a little bit of ministry and a whole lot of social work because you’re helping people all day every day if you do what you’re meant to.”
She discussed how she has deeply religious roots and when she was growing up her grandparents regularly listened to Jerry Falwell on the radio.
“One of the things that was special to me as I sat here was when I was a kid growing up my grandparents lived not far from here,” Vogel said. “They were deeply religious. Faith was an important part of our life growing up. They were very active in the Church of the Brethren. On Sunday, it seemed like all we did when I was a little bitty child was spend the entire day in church. But before we spent what seemed like the entire day in church, my grandparents sat in the kitchen and listened to the Old-Time Gospel Hour with Jerry Falwell. And I thought Jerry Falwell was the most famous person in the world because they would listen to him for that hour—and we couldn’t talk, we had to listen to the scratchy old radio—I’m 47 so I don’t know how old I was then. But somehow, there was a way you could replay it and you could hear it again. And we did, somehow, later in the day. I hadn’t thought about that for many years until this past June I got to back to the Blue Ridge Church of the Brethren and sit where I sat so many Sundays in my childhood and this is not something that I talked about publicly yet because I didn’t think I ever could in this campaign, but that was just three days before my primary election in this election. My mother died and was buried at that Blue Ridge Church of the Brethren, and I sat there in the Church and I thought about all of those times and what faith means in your life and what it means, what it means in your life, and in fact I thought about the Old-Time Gospel Hour and Jerry Falwell.”
Vogel said her grandparents would be “in awe” at the institution that Falwell built at Liberty University. And she encouraged the students to go out when they graduate, and “change the world.”
“I’ve been here, have never been to a convocation, and in fact I sit here and think: ‘What would my grandparents think? What would they think if they saw what Jerry Falwell built?’ They would be in awe,” she said. “And they would be in awe of what you, the many, many young people like you are doing by going out in the world in building. I listened to what Pastor Wayne [Hilsden] said, as he concluded his comments about going out there and changing the world and making a difference and doing something in the public policy arena and I say he’s right. Go do it. And win or lose, it’s worth every ounce of effort. It will be hard. Bad things will happen in the middle and you will sit there in a pew and think ‘I can’t believe any of this is happening.’ Life will come full circle in amazing ways and you will have a moment where you stand up at a convocation and say you think back over a lifetime ‘it all comes together over a moment like this for me.’ And it will mean to you as this has meant for me and I just want to say thank you for having me and go out there and change the world.”
Vogel is a strong conservative attorney, state senator, and rising GOP star. She has embraced President Donald Trump and his successes on the campaign trail in Virginia. She and her running mate GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie are surging in the polls, with the Republican ticket taking the lead in a recent Monmouth poll—all ahead of former President Barack Obama’s trip onto the campaign trail for Ralph Northam, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, on Thursday night. Obama’s campaign appearance for Northam is the former president’s first time back on the campaign trail since leaving the White House in late January this year, marking the significance of the race. Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, has campaigned for Gillespie—and President Trump has offered praise for Gillespie on Twitter—and former President George W. Bush campaigned for Gillespie too. Both sides are pulling out all the stops ahead of the general election in November.
Part of Vogel’s and Gillespie’s newfound lead in the polls comes from an embrace of economic nationalism. Gillespie has run a number of ads targeting the rise of MS-13 illegal alien gang violence and other illegal alien crimes, as well hitting sanctuary cities and promising to protect Virginia’s monuments and rich historical heritage. But it also stems from significant missteps by the Democratic ticket, including a recent episode where Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Justin Fairfax—a Black Lives Matter sympathizer who is on the radical fringe of his party’s hard-left—was left off campaign literature by Northam. Fairfax even publicly criticized his running mate’s move, calling it a mistake. This drops former President Obama into a particularly problematic race for his own party, one where—similarly to national trends in 2016 when Hillary Rodham Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee—the black community is not thrilled with the Democratic nominee at the top of the ticket. Low black turnout hurt Clinton in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Michigan—and high working class white turnout helped tilt the election to now President Trump. The national trend was not enough to swing Virginia, which went for Clinton, but now Republicans are aiming to replicate Trump’s electoral success in a state that’s been trending leftward for the past several years—and early indicators point to potential success.
Vogel said the optics of bringing out Obama—whose efforts to campaign for Clinton fell flat last year—now are not good for the divided Democratic ticket of Northam and Fairfax.
“I think that that could probably not come at a worse time for Democrats given what’s happening on their side,” Vogel told Breitbart News when asked about her reaction to Obama’s planned event for Northam on Thursday night. “Yesterday was a bad day for the Democratic ticket given there was already this sort of cloud hanging over the ticket anyway with just one sort of bad day after another and then the sort of internal optics over booting one guy off the ticket and there’s all this internal conflict and then some of their supporters are saying ‘we’re supporting the ticket but we’re not supporting that guy because he’s so anti-jobs.’ The unions aren’t supporting the lieutenant governor candidate on the Democratic ticket and saying ‘we won’t support you, we won’t go door to door for you,’ because this is about jobs in Virginia. That’s what this election is about. It’s about sustaining the economy in Virginia and you cannot sustain the economy in Virginia if you’re anti-jobs, if you’re anti-energy infrastructure, if you’re anti-everything. That’s the statement that certainly my opponent Justin Fairfax has made, and that’s anti-everything. That’s not even where most Democrats are in Virginia. So Obama coming in on the tail of that is really just awkward and painful and just reinforces that they’re out of touch.”
Her lead—and her running mate Gillespie’s lead at the top of the ticket—comes as Democrats run away from Fairfax and have trouble embracing Northam.
“My opponent has been dumped from the ticket, as I have always made reference to people who ask: ‘Who is your opponent? I’ve never heard his name. I’ve never seen him appear anywhere,’” Vogel told Breitbart News. “Now, Northam is not—he doesn’t appear anywhere with the ticket literature going door to door. The interesting thing is my opponent is so far outside of where the mainstream of where Virginia is on public policy is but the point that many Democrats have been concerned about and certainly I have made is that he is misaligned even with their own ticket. He’s so far left of where they are. On healthcare, he’s for government run single-payer healthcare where 5 million people would lose their healthcare and Virginia would have to expand its budget—43 percent of our budget would have to grow for healthcare, which we cannot afford.”
Vogel’s approach to discussing President Trump’s support for her and Gillespie is different than Gillespie. Gillespie has kept the president at arm’s length, but Vogel has embraced his message of jobs and economic nationalism that was electorally successful in 2016.
“This is why I think that the message we have is a winning message and is resonating and it’s the exact same reason that the president’s message won and continues to resonate,” Vogel said when asked about jobs and economic efforts from Trump as compared with her and Gillespie. “That is these are issues that transcend politics. People vote because they want a job and want the economy expand. Whether it’s energy infrastructure or whether it’s the port or whether it’s ‘I’m willing to work with this president.’ I’m proud. I’m willing to stand up for this president and I’m willing to say ‘I will work with this administration on any single issue that helps Virginia.’ That’s where Ed Gillespie is. That’s where I am. That’s where John Adams is. And guess what? People go: ‘Yeah, I want that for my state. I don’t want that position where the other side is which is nothing.’ So I think that has resonated, and I think it’s working in Virginia and that’s why President Trump got elected—it’s because people are sick and tired of this politics of no. People are sick and tired of no energy expansion, no pipeline, no infrastructure, no jobs, that means no manufacturing expansion east of Richmond if you take the position that you want no clean burning natural gas. That’s no more renewables, no more solar, no more wind. Who takes that position? Nobody. It’s why they literally booted Fairfax off their literature.”
On energy policy—another key plank of Vogel’s and Gillespie’s economic nationalism—Vogel told Breitbart News she and her running mate plan to embrace all forms of new energy. Doing so, she said, helps the economy boom statewide.
“My position and the whole Republican ticket’s position is an all-of-the-above energy strategy, which is to say the only way Virginia survives and the only way we continue to get more investment in Virginia, more infrastructure, more expansion of Virginia’s economy,” Vogel said. “You attract more manufacturing jobs, more investment generally, you have more access to energy. Again, that’s an all of the above energy policy not a strangulation policy. If you embrace the policy of strangulation, guess what that means? That’s a strangulation of everything. A strangulation of the economy, no more jobs and no more investment. And ours is everything. That actually attracts jobs. If you talk to anybody who’s talking about incentivizing them to relocate to Virginia, there’s no scenario where they come unless you have energy. If you talk to current industry in Virginia, and part of campaigning all over Virginia is going and talking to people who are here they say if we don’t have access to the energy we can’t stay. So jobs that are already here go. They leave. Big manufacturing companies leave.”
The most important thing about the race, however, Vogel told Breitbart News, is that she and Gillespie are running a positive, issues-focused campaign while their opponents are just focused on matters of personality and trying to tear down President Trump.
“The comments I made here at this convocation were about how it’s hard,” she told Breitbart News. “It’s a challenge as much as it is without trying to play the game of personal destruction. I have not focused any bit of energy on trying to do anything other than trying to put out a positive message for change in Virginia. If you notice, all that my opponent does in any discussion we’ve had in a public forum is just pound away, pound away, pound away. Negative. Just negative blather. What am I talking about? My opponent refused to even acknowledge energy when a question had to do with energy. All he wants to do is just pound the president and talk about just negative stuff that had nothing to do with anything in the Lieutenant Governor’s race. It’s astounding. The public hates that. People want real, substantive policies and solutions to things that are happening in Virginia right now in 2017. People just want answers. Again, all of these things that we’re talking about—they transcend politics. People just want solutions for what is going to impact their children and jobs and transportation and energy. They want to know that they’re going to have a slot to get into college when they actually want to go to college. They want to know that there’s going to be literally energy so they can turn the lights on or that there’s going to be a job for them. So that’s the part of this that actually is a perfect example of leadership and real leadership versus just blather and drag everybody down rhetoric.”