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This morning’s Roanoke Times offers a near-sigh of relief.  Two gubernatorial candidates, and neither one of them certifiably insane:

Let’s start with the good news. Between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie, we actually have a pretty good choice for governor. By that, we mean neither one seems likely to embarrass us. Yes, that’s a pretty low barrier, but these are the times we live in. Both Northam and Gillespie seem like decent, normal people. That’s not to say that Democrats would like the things a Gov. Gillespie would do, or that Republicans would like the things a Gov. Northam would do. They probably would not. But this is a much better choice than we had four years ago between Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli. Interpret that however you like.

Virginia has always been interpreted as being ever-so-slightly-ahead of the national climate — at least, it used to be.  If one might echo the sentiment, a return to normalcy in the wake of postmodern rage is a welcome change.

Yet facts are facts.  Northam is being pulled distinctly far left in a way that Gillespie has been able calm those to his right:

Gillespie, with a sunny, almost Reaganesque disposition, offers a dire warning: Virginia needs to make some big changes — starting with across-the-board tax cuts. That hasn’t really worked out well for Kansas, where the Republican governor tried the same thing — and the results were so disastrous that the Republican state legislature has now reversed them. Still, Gillespie’s point is: What we’re doing now isn’t working, and we need to do something different.

Gillespie isn’t wrong, and if the editorial is right as to whether or not one believes the glass is half empty (Gillespie) or half full (Northam), then the broom of reform sweeps clean.

Two albatrosses continue to hang around Northam’s neck at the moment: Antifa and the pipeline.

For conservatives in a post-Trumpian era, nothing is more galvanizing than lawless mobs marching down the street to demand lawless acts.  For progressives who have forced Northam to bend the knee on virtually everything else but the pipeline, their opposition to what has been sold as a world-ending project is meeting baffling (and waffling) resistance from the very top — Northam and McAuliffe both.

This is where Gillespie’s advantages as a law and order candidate come to the fore, and it is the DNA of virtually every successful Republican statewide effort in the modern era: support our law enforcement, enforce the law, and create a ton of jobs along the way.

It’s not quite the old formula of God, guns, and gays… but law, order, and employment is certainly a substitute that rings in the ears of working class Virginians.