Northam and Jackson trade barbs over pay equity

State Sen. Ralph S. Northam, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, and his Republican opponent E.W. Jackson traded barbs today over pay equity and workplace discrimination.

In a campaign newsletter, Northam cranked up the heat against his opponent, criticizing Jackson for opposing pay equity, citing previous comments made by the Republican that suggest equal pay measures add nothing to the dignity and equality of women. “In fact, it may make some businesses leery of hiring women for fear of the litigation that may eventually result,” Jackson wrote on a Tea Party website in May.

According to Northam’s newsletter, studies have shown that in Virginia, women earn about 78 cents on the dollar that men earn, and the wage gap for minority women is even worse. “This is a vital economic issue for Virginia and another example of E.W. Jackson’s disrespect toward women across the commonwealth,” the letter said.

(A similar claim by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who had previously said that women earn 77 percent of what men earn for “working the same job,” was rated mostly false by Politifact Virginia, because it is broad comparison of the median annual pay for men and women regardless of occupation. It does not factor in that men tend to chose higher paying professions than women and work more hours.)

Shortly after Northam’s newsletter was mailed out, Jackson’s campaign responded with its own release, “concerning Ralph Northam’s election year rhetoric and empty record.”

“While Ralph Northam may try to talk a good game on issues he feels are vital to the people of the Commonwealth, his record in the Virginia Senate, or lack thereof, tells a different story,” said a quote attributed to Jackson. “What Northam currently calls ‘commonsense legislation’ is something he has not taken the time to address by sponsoring a single relevant bill during his five years in the Virginia Senate. Instead, Northam’s record is one of standing against better health standards for women’s clinics and for an extreme social agenda that does nothing to put Virginians back to work.”