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Lieutenant governor candidates Fairfax, Vogel square off in Richmond debate

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RICHMOND, Va. -- The two candidates vying for the number two job in Virginia politics took the proverbial gloves off during the second Lieutenant Governor debate Thursday night in the Moot Courtroom at the University of Richmond.  Democrat Justin Fairfax and Republican Jill Vogel spent more than an hour battling over policy in Virginia on issues like gun control, Medicaid expansion, and a controversial 2012 transvaginal ultrasound bill.

Fairfax is a former federal prosecutor who lives in Northern Virginia.  Vogel is a state senator from Fauquier County who has held her seat in the legislature for ten years.  CBS 6 anchor Bill Fitzgerald and political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth moderated the debate.

Fairfax regularly tried to tie his opponent to President Donald Trump, who Vogel has publicly supported.  Vogel tried throughout the night to contrast her experience in Virginia government to Fairfax, who has not held public office.

However, during one such moment, her statement elicited an audible gasp from some members in the crowd after Fairfax attacked a 2012 bill Vogel sponsored that would have required woman seeking an abortion receive a transvaginal ultrasound before the procedure.

"He brings this up every chance he gets.  There are other issues I think he can talk about, but I clearly think he is not informed enough on those issue to talk intelligently about them. I have to put that out there," Vogel said

Vogel withdrew the legislation after then Governor Bob McDonnell voiced concerns about it.  Thursday night, Vogel said the legislation was being used as an election year ploy to score political points, a move she said exploits women.

"This is exactly what people reject.  She just hired her second Trump adviser on her campaign this week, so this is what we can expect is for Senator Vogel to keep going in the gutter," Fairfax said during his response.

The two also offered differing views on gun control in the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas and a rise in violent crime in some Virginia cities, like Richmond.

"In these cities, in these jurisdictions where you are seeing this high gun violence, these guns are coming from places that have lax gun laws," Fairfax said in support of tighter gun restrictions.

"Taking people's gun rights away does not, does not, restrict gun violence in the way people believe it will," said Vogel.

The candidates offered fundamentally different views on how Virginia's economy is performing.  Vogel said the last four years with a democrat in the executive mansion has stifled and set back Virginia businesses, while Fairfax, who supports a $15 minimum wage, said billions have been invested in the state during the McAuliffe administration.

"Facebook just announced they are bringing a $1 billion data center to the Commonwealth of Virginia. If we're becoming less competitive, Facebook obviously did not get that message," Fairfax said.

"I would just urge everybody in this room and everybody following these campaigns to take into consideration that that is what this race it about. To encourage people to stay in Virginia and make Virginia more competitive and save those jobs," said Vogel, who promised to fight for policy that would be friendly to business development.

CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Holsworth said the Lt. Governor's race usually does not receive much attention, but that Thursday night proved it may be more interesting to watch than the gubernatorial race.  In Virginia, citizens vote separately for each statewide race, meaning voters do not have to vote for the candidate in the same party for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General.  The last time Virginia elected leaders from different parties was 2005 when Tim Kaine, a democrat, was elected Governor and Bill Bolling, a Republican, was elected Lieutenant Governor.

"This debate tonight was really interesting, fascinating, very pointed, and I think gave people who happened to be here a real good sense of the contrast between Justin Fairfax and Jill Vogel," Dr. Holsworth said.  Both candidates did a good job of thinking on their feet and showing differences from other people on their own ticket, Dr. Holsworth said.

The general election in Virginia is November 7.