September 23, 2005
The campaign for governor is heating up as the November election looms closer.
Political experts say one critical vote that could sway the race in either direction is that of Virginia?s farmers.
All three gubernatorial candidates were at the state fair in Richmond trying to win the agricultural industry?s vote of confidence.
Reminded of the days he spent on his grandfather?s cattle and tobacco farm, Republican Jerry Kilgore pledged to support the states farmers.
He promoted his plan for new tax credits to keep farm land affordable.
Democratic candidate Tim Kaine said he has supported farmers when his opponent Jerry Kilgore has not.
His plan is called 'Save Family Farms' and he said he will measure his success by counting the number of farms and making sure those numbers do not decline.
Independent candidate Russ Potts also appealed to rural voters, saying they don't need another lawyer as governor but a businessman.
All three candidates said they want to keep farm land safe from development and preserve a traditional way of life.
They will all vote to abolish the death tax and make it easier for a new generation of farmers to succeed.
Local farmers said they are putting their support behind the candidate who has their best interest in mind.
"There is too much urban sprawl and development in Albemarle County and we need to elect someone who is on the side of agriculture," said Ed Scharer, an Albemarle County farmer.
The support of the areas farmers may be critical in the upcoming election. Rural voters helped carry President Bush to a second term in office. Governor Mark Warner's appeal to farmers helped him take votes away from his republican opponent.
Agriculture is the largest industry in Virginia, generating over $36 billion dollars in revenue each year.