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What you need to know about Virginia's Senate race

Sen. Tim Kaine, Corey Stewart and Matt Waters are on ballot

Midterm elections will be held nationwide Nov. 6 and 35 total Senate seats are being contested.

One of those Senate seats up for grabs is Virginia's.

Democrat Tim Kaine is currently serving his first term in the U.S. Senate.

Looking to win Kaine's seat are Republican Corey Stewart and Libertarian Matt Waters.

Sen. Tim Kaine has a 24-year history in Virginia politics. Since 1994, he has served as a Richmond City Council member, Richmond's mayor, Virginia's lieutenant governor, Virginia's governor and is now one of Virginia's U.S. senators.

In the 2016 Presidential election, Kaine was the running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Kaine his wife have three children and live in Richmond.

Corey Stewart is an international trade attorney who calls Northern Virginia home.

He is also the at-large chairman of the Board of County Supervisors in Prince William County.

Stewart and his wife, along with their two sons, live in Woodbridge, Virginia.

Matt Waters is a Virginia native; a graduate of Hampton High School and George Mason University.

He has spent more than 20 years raising money for candidates, ballot initiatives, 501c3 and 501c4 groups, and non-profit organizations, according to his website.

Waters and his wife have five kids.

Candidates' stance on various issues:

Interstate 81

Wrecks and delays on Interstate 81 have made their way into the debate over what the next member of the Senate should do to fix the problem.

Incumbent Tim Kaine wants to wait and see what the state recommends when it concludes a study late in 2018. He says he then plans to support the study with federal dollars.

“At the federal level, what we do is give money to the states for transportation. And it's the state, through the Commonwealth Transportation Board and state agencies, that decides how to allocate. But I'll certainly be advocating that the money that we give go toward fixing these problems on interstate 81,” Kaine said.

Republican Corey Stewart says he plans to make transportation a cornerstone of his campaign with a heavy emphasis on 81.

“I'm going to focus on transportation improvements, on road improvements most importantly, I-81 - just as I have as a local official. I'm putting money into transportation and into relieving traffic congestion. That's what I'm going to do in the United States Senate,” Stewart said.

Libertarian candidate Matt Waters' position revolves more around saving taxpayer dollars, though he still sees transportation as a priority.

“The average taxpayer works from January to April 18 to pay off federal, state and local taxes. It’s about $12,000 a year. I would want to redirect some of that money to the critical issues like interstate 81 or 64 or 66 or 495, because that’s where taxpayers get more bang for their buck, so to speak,” Waters said.

Immigration

Immigration is one of the issues Virginians are focused on this year as they make their choice for the United States Senate.  

At issue is whether the nation builds the border wall with Mexico and what to do with the so-called dreamers – those illegal immigrants who came here as children, but lived their entire lives in the United States.  

Republican Corey Stewart takes a hard line approach much in line with Donald Trump’s.  

He wants a wall and he wants illegal aliens to be returned to their native countries.  He claims his strict policies worked in Prince William County, where he is a member of the Board of Supervisors.

“10 years ago in my home county of Prince William County, I led the policy to crack down on illegal immigrants. Why? Because they were committing crimes against citizens in my community. So far, we’ve handed more than 8,000 criminal illegal aliens over to immigration and customs enforcement. Our crime rate went way down. That’s what I would like to do all over Virginia,” Stewart said. 

Tim Kaine says he would like to see a path to citizenship for Dreamers who have a clean record during their time in the U.S.  

He says he voted to spend $25 billion dollars on border security in return for the Dreamers’ future – but the president and Republican members of Congress voted it down.

“$25 billion in border security over 10 years -- that’s exactly what President Trump asked for. In exchange, citizenship over a period of years for the dreamers. Both are items that President Trump said he supported. So we went and said, 'can you take yes for an answer?’ He didn’t end up accepting that, so we didn’t get the votes,” Kaine said.

Of the wall itself, Kaine supported a combination of a wall along with drones and other types of sensors to maintain security.

Libertarian candidate Matt Waters believes the wall would be too expensive. 

“I’m against the wall. It’s a $40 billion cost. Not only is there a cost to it but 70 percent of the illegal immigrants in this country come over to US via JetBlue. They’re overstaying visas,” Waters said. 

He added, “If you look at the stats by economists -- the illegal immigrants here are much more law abiding then are natural born US citizens.”

Opioids

The new, best-selling book, Dopesick, by Roanoke author Beth Macy chronicles the severity of the opioid crisis not just nationally, but in Roanoke and the surrounding communities. 

10 News recently sat down with the candidates for US Senate to talk about their solution to the opioid epidemic.

Republican challenger Corey Stewart wants to put more emphasis on effective treatment for addicts.

“Our jails are filled with people who have substance abuse problems and mental health issues. One of the things I started in my community was something called the 'Divert Programs,' which trains police officers -- trains people in the criminal justice system to recognize those who are addicted to heroin or other opioids, who may have mental health issues. Instead of just forcing them into the jails, we divert them out of the criminal justice system and get them the treatment and the recovery that they need." 

Incumbent Senator Tim Kaine also sees the need to place a premium on treatment. Kaine says it’s wrong to treat addicts as criminals.

“I recently went to the Chesterfield County Jail. The inmates asked me this question: ‘How come I had to get arrested before I could get a treatment program like this?’ We need more treatment. Available in Virginia communities like Roanoke,” Kaine said.

Libertarian candidate Matt Waters would like to see the government get out of the healing business, preferring to see the non-profit sector handle those with drug addictions.

“What you see in those organizations is a responsiveness that the government doesn't have. You see a responsibility and the transparency that the government doesn’t have. … The cool thing about America is we have a public sector, everybody does. We have a private sector most everybody does. We have a thing called the non-profit sector. It’s massive and it can take care of some of the social problems better than can Washington, D.C.,” Waters said.

We'll continue to update this page to include the candidates' views about more key issues.


About the Authors:

John Carlin

John Carlin co-anchors the 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10.

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