|Lt. Gov. Northam|
Seemingly out of nowhere a possible wrench has been thrown into Virginia Democrats' plan for an orderly, uncontested race for the party's 2017 gubernatorial nomination. One term Congressman Tom Perriello, who only served from 2009 to 2011 before losing to a right wing ideologue due to his ultra-liberal voting record and less than effective campaign, is posed to jump into the race for the Democrat nomination. It is difficult to adequately stress just how critical it is for a Democrat to succeed Terry McAuliffe as Virginia's next governor so that there is at least somewhat of the firewall against the most egregious initiatives of the Republican Party of Virginia such as Del. Bob Marshall's horrific HB 1612 that seeks to out do North Carolina's infamous HB2. None of this seemingly matters to Perriello who is basically unknown outside of his former district and certain liberal organization circles and could throw the Governor's mansion to the Republicans if he creates a contentious and money wasting contested primary. The husband and I - and most LGBT activists we know - are firmly behind Lt. Governor Ralph Northam's candidacy as are leading Democrats in Virginia. The New York Times looks at Perriello's apparently ego driven move to harm Democrats in 2017. Here are highlights:
Tom Perriello, the former congressman from Virginia, is making a surprise entry into his state’s governor’s race, disrupting Democrats’ well-laid plans in what promises to be the most-watched election in the country this year.
Mr. Perriello on Wednesday telephoned Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, who had been widely presumed to be the party’s nominee, to tell him he was entering the race, according to three Democrats directly familiar with the conversation.
Mr. Perriello, a State Department official who is close to President Obama, is expected to announce his intention on Thursday to compete in the June 13 Democratic primary. He did not respond to a voice mail and text message. Mr. Northam could not be reached, either.
By entering the race to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who is limited to a single term, Mr. Perriello will hinder Mr. McAuliffe’s effort to avert a contentious primary. Leading Democrats have sought to clear the field for Mr. Northam, hoping to give him a head start in fund-raising and organization, while at least three Republicans vie for the nomination.
A run by Mr. Perriello will expose the tensions between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party in Virginia, which is increasingly dominant in a once-conservative state. Much of the state’s Democratic leadership is already lined up for Mr. Northam, and Mr. Perriello’s unexpected move made them to scramble to respond.
A senior Virginia Democrat, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Wednesday evening that Mr. McAuliffe would emphatically reaffirm his support for the lieutenant governor. Aides to Virginia’s two United States senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, said they would not reconsider their support for Mr. Northam.
For decades, Virginia Democrats have taken care to distinguish themselves from their more liberal national party and present themselves as prudent centrists. But having carried Virginia in the last three presidential elections and controlling every statewide office, some Democrats are hungry to elevate progressives.
“Tom is a very capable and popular person who served in Congress very well,” said former Representative L. F. Payne Jr., who once represented the same district as Mr. Perriello and now backs Mr. Northam. “I think that Ralph, though, is well-prepared for the job, and Democrats feel good about him as our candidate. It’s awfully late for anybody else to think about getting in.”
Neither Mr. Perriello nor Mr. Northam is well known to Virginia voters. Mr. Northam would enjoy a substantial financial advantage and the support of Mr. McAuliffe, who is popular with Democrats. The governor, in fact, is hosting a fund-raiser at his Northern Virginia home this weekend for Mr. Northam.
But Mr. Perriello is well liked among some liberal activists and could gain support with the sort of highly engaged voters who show up in low-turnout summer primaries. To do so, though, he will have to fend off questions from the left about some of his stances on cultural issues. He was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in his 2010 campaign and cast some votes against abortion.
Republicans, meanwhile, have their own primary battle. Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman; President-elect Donald J. Trump’s onetime state campaign chairman, Corey Stewart; and State Senator Frank Wagner, from the Tidewater region.
Perriello needs to withdraw from the contest. Meanwhile, our home is available to Ralph Northam any time he needs it for a fundraiser.