Top Democrats bungle response to Tom Perriello
Virginia Democrats, in responding to the news that Tom Perriello is going to run for governor, are showing themselves to be tone-deaf.
Because, see, the party hierarchy had already anointed Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam as the gubernatorial nominee.
And you remember how Democratic Party hierarchy anointing a candidate just worked out in the presidential race.
Yeah, not so good, there.
So, anyway. Northam is the guy, and now Perriello is upsetting the apple cart.
How dare he, right? The stars are aligning around Northam, after all.
One little problem: you haven’t heard of Northam.
Sure, he was elected in 2013, but that’s OK.
The most recent polling on the 2017 governor race has 76 percent of you telling the guy on the phone that you don’t know enough about him to have an opinion on him one way or the other.
A small problem, that one.
More important, to the Democratic hierarchy folks, is that Northam and the sitting attorney general, Mark Herring, worked out a deal in 2015 to prevent the kind of in-fighting that doomed Republicans in 2013, when then-Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was outmaneuvered for the GOP gubernatorial nomination by then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, ahead of Cuccinelli’s narrow loss in the general to McAuliffe.
You remember that election. Cuccinelli was the Donald Trump of that race, issuing all kinds of crazy pronouncements, and trailed badly in the polls in the weeks, days and hours leading up to Election Day, before losing by an eyelash.
This before Republicans wisened up, ran a much less Trump-ian candidate against the bipartisanly-popular Warner in 2014, in the form of Gillespie, who also trailed big-time in the polls and came within half an eyelash of pulling the monumental upset.
While it might be hard to argue with the recent results, three statewide office holders who are Dems, two U.S. senators who are Dems, three straight wins for Dems in presidential races, we’re not talking blowout wins here.
Gillespie seems poised to get the Republican nomination, and Gillespie almost retired Warner, despite Warner’s approval numbers in the exit polls in 2014 being near all-time highs.
Ralph Northam, God love him, ain’t Mark Warner.
Neither, for that matter, is Tom Perriello, who also ain’t Bernie Sanders, but one thing Perriello is, is a known entity with the Democratic base.
Perriello is an authentic progressive who didn’t lead a single poll in his 2008 congressional race against Virgil Goode, who once led the youngster by 29 points in the early polling that year, and led by 10 in the walkup to Election Day.
Did I mention that the Fifth District that Perriello won that year is drawn up to be safe Republican? Yes, it includes the People’s Republic of Charlottesville, but the Fifth rides down Route 29 all the way down to Danville, past one small town after another after another.
Perriello would serve only one term, getting swept out of office in the 2010 Tea Party wave, but it should be to his credit that he didn’t let the pending wave water down his politics while in office. As other Democrats in Republican districts waffled over what to do in votes on the Obama agenda, most notably the Affordable Care Act, Perriello was solidly in the progressive camp all the way.
Which will endear him to the base, if not the party hierarchy, who are playing the role of Tammany Hall in doubling down in their support of Northam, the amiable fellow none of the rest of us know, and unfortunately for him is about to be vilified by progressives who sense a repeat of the Hillary-Bernie saga of 2016 ready to be played out in front of them.
Seems that the hierarchy has learned nothing from 2016.
Column by Chris Graham