Virginia Sheriffs’ Association (VSA) executive director John Jones accused Virginia Democrat Gov. Terry McAuliffe of canceling a budget meeting with the VSA over having a majority of sheriffs endorsing Republican Ed Gillespie for governor.
Jones sent a letter to the Sheriffs’ Association regarding McAullife’s decision to cancel his meeting with the VSA.
“The governor canceled the meeting because a majority of sheriffs have endorsed the Ed Gillespie for governor,” Jones said. “The VSA does not endorse any candidates for elected office.” He added:
This is a disappointing development, as being left out of the budget proposal places sheriffs at a termoundeous disadvantage going into the 2018 General Assembly session. As a result of this unfortunate development, it is now more important than ever that sheriffs and deputy sheriffs contact their legislators for support increase salaries of our deputy sheriffs.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the increasingly tight polls between Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam might have spurred the conflict between Gov. McAuliffe and the VSA. The Times-Dispatch wrote,
With polls showing a close race between Gillespie and Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is running largely on McAuliffe’s legacy, the dustup with the VSA is a sign McAuliffe may be growing frustrated by perceived allies throwing their support to Gillespie. On Thursday morning, the Gillespie campaign announced that Middlesex County Sheriff David Bushey had switched his endorsement from Northam to Gillespie.
A new poll from Emerson College revealed that Ed Gillespie trails Ralph Northam by only five points. With a margin of error of 5.5 percent that puts the two candidates in a statistical tie.
Middlesex County Sheriff David Bushey explained:
The annual meeting between the governor and the Virginia Sheriff’s Association is of vital importance to law enforcement officers all across the Commonwealth. It is infuriating that Governor McAuliffe canceled the one of the rare we have to discuss budgetary issues. The McAuliffe-Northam administration should know better than to play politics with our pay raises. This decision is an insult to Virginia’s finest, who put their lives on the line each day to protect our Commonwealth. We have taken a solemn oath to serve all Virginians, not just those we agree with, and the Governor should take the same approach.
Two weeks ago, Gillespie earned the endorsement of 63 Virginia Sheriffs, a majority of sheriffs.
Over the summer, Gillespie released his Keeping Virginia Safe program, which would help combat gang violence, and ban sanctuary cities to make Virginia safer.
Gillespie recently commented on Gov. McAuliffe’s cancellation. He said, “Public safety is a fundamental responsibility of the government, and it’s wrong that the McAuliffe-Northam Administration canceled the annual meeting of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association, especially given the critical deputy compensation issues that were to be discussed. With an increase in gang violence and an opioid epidemic sweeping the Commonwealth, this is no time for pettiness. It is clear that law enforcement and public safety is not a priority for Governor McAuliffe and Lieutenant Governor Northam. It will be for me.”