Northam backs McAuliffe: The old white guy network, still in full force
You know how messed up Virginia Democratic politics is when you see Terry McAuliffe accepting Gov. Ralph Northam’s endorsement, and no one even asks about how McAuliffe two years ago was leading the call to get Northam to resign.
You remember that one, right?
McAuliffe couldn’t seem to wait to call for Northam’s resignation, going on the record within hours of the revelation that Northam’s medical-school yearbook page featured a photo showing one man in blackface, another in KKK garb.
McAuliffe was then getting himself in position for a run at the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and he wasn’t going to let the yearbook controversy, or the subsequent matter involving sexual-assault allegations lodged against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, another Democrat, get in his way.
Now, he wasn’t alone among Democrats calling for Northam and then later Fairfax, who is also running for the Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination, to step down.
It was the thing to do in the winter of 2019 if you were a Democrat.
Strangely, for all the on-the-record calls for Northam to resign, no one from among those who went public went back and retracted those calls.
The whole matter just sort of faded into the background; it seems the PR approach was just to hope that people would move on.
Northam, whatever credit he deserves, has made racial justice a top priority since – and even if it’s just because he’s been shamed, or he’s just trying to preserve whatever political future he can have after his one term as governor is up, which, ding, ding, ding, that’s what’s been going on here, at least some good will come of it.
The governor’s penance, incidentally, seems to include his endorsement of Norfolk Del. Jay Jones in his bid for the Democratic Party attorney general nomination in his challenge to two-term AG Mark Herring, which would bring the added benefit to Northam of kicking a fellow top Virginia Democrat in the shins in the event that the two would find themselves competing for whatever appointments may come their way down the road.
How you can tell the racial justice thing is calculation and not Saul on the road to Damascus is the endorsement of McAuliffe – one old white guy clinging to whatever power he has left throwing a lifeline to a recycled old white guy grabbing for what he can get.
The endorsement of Jones, announced a few weeks back, is also convenient cover for the endorsement of McAuliffe that was obviously to follow.
There are three superb African American candidates in the race – Fairfax, the lieutenant governor, Jennifer McClellan, a veteran state senator, and Jennifer Carroll Foy, an upstart former state delegate.
Fairfax, fair or not, is probably damaged goods at this point, with the stink of the allegations from two years ago an easy political bullseye for Republicans were he to get the nomination in the June primary.
Going with McAuliffe over either McClellan or Carroll Foy is clearly an effort from Northam to buy himself some more time on the political stage – perhaps wringing an appointment in the State Capitol, maybe showing himself to the centrist Democrats in power on Capitol Hill to be a team player to get something there.
Otherwise, why endorse a guy who led the effort to get you to step down two years ago?
It’s not as if Northam owes anybody an endorsement at this stage; he could just fade quietly into public life once his term is up next January, go back to being a country doctor, write the occasional op-ed.
The endorsement of McAuliffe signals that he’s not done yet.
Virginia has a chance to elect the first African American female governor in our nation’s history, and has two excellent candidates in McClellan and Carroll Foy – our choice, incidentally.
There’s been a lot of talk of late about how far Virginia has come in the past decade, from when Republicans held the three statewide offices and both houses of the General Assembly and wasted our time and resources debating transvaginal ultrasounds, to today, with Democrats in power committing their energy and our tax dollars to clean energy, K-12 education, infrastructure, civil rights.
We still have an old boy network that is efforting mightily to perpetuate itself at our expense, so, as far as we think we’ve come, we still have a ways to go.
Story by Chris Graham