As the 2012 campaign kicks into high gear, it is still imperative we keep an eye on 2013. As of now, there are no declared candidates on the Democratic side for Governor while the Republicans have two primed and high-dollar candidates revving their engines. With budget tricks and divisive social issues permeating from the Governor's Mansion over the past 2 years, we cannot afford another 4 year Republican hold of Virginia's Governorship either under Bill Bolling or Ken Cuccinelli. In 2013, we need a candidate to stand up for Virginia's working families and progressive values but also we need a candidate who can, above all, win. That man is Congressman Tom Perriello.
The case towards a Perriello gubernatorial bid wrests on three crucial factors: 1) his progressive record, 2) his electability and 3) his viability. On all three points, it is clear that we must convince Mr. Perriello to seek the Democratic nod in 2013.
As a Congressman from a lean Republican district, Mr. Perriello made the difficult choices to support the road to recovery. Rather than abandon the principles of the Party like the so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats of the 2009-10 Congress, Perriello stuck to his “conviction politics” guns and cast votes for the American Recovery Act, the Affordable Care Act, and numerous other pieces of Democratic legislation such as the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program, not because they were wildly popular back home but because they were of the right course for this nation. Mr. Perriello was also instrumental in pursuing energy reform by sponsoring so-called “Rural Star” legislation to help promote tens of thousands of jobs through the creation of energy-saving investments. It is clear that not only does Mr. Perriello have the conviction to fight for Virginia, he has a record of accomplishment to show for it.
Perriello's pre-congressional record also shows a man who has the “fire in his belly”, so to speak, on helping those in need. Bob Gibson of the Daily Press notes of Mr. Perriello's role in “helping prosecute war lords in Sierra Leone and developing alternative peace plans in the Darfur region of Sudan” during his time working for the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Center for Transnational Justice respectively. As a Governor, Mr. Perriello's congressional and international experience would play a key role in creating the tempermant, judgment and boldness to lead the Commonwealth.
Yet perhaps more important is the electability path for Tom Perriello. With the exclusion of Mark Warner who continues down the will-he-or-wont-he path, Tom Perriello is by far the best candidate to put up against either of the Republicans in 2013. The only other candidate who's shown any interest in running has been Terry McAuliffe, who's quietly been building the roots for a run. Yet across the board, McAuliffe would objectively be a worse candidate. There's the fact that he was blown out of the water by underfunded Creigh Deeds despite having a sizeable cash lead in 2009. Also, as Tom Jenson of Public Policy Polling (PPP) released this morning, Perriello is a better general election candidate than McAuliffe. While both perform similarly against Bill Bolling, Perriello is the only one of the two who is able to defeat deranged (and more likely GOP nominee) Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (McAuliffe ties 40/40 while Perriello leads 41/39).
Furthermore, Tom Perriello retains higher favorability numbers than Terry McAulilffe, though both are fairly unknown. Among Democrats, however, Mr. Perriello has nearly twice as high net favorability ratings compared to McAuliffe (+13 vs. +7 respectively) and Perriello performs 9 points better in a head to head against Cuccinelli amongst Democrats, indicating an ability to solidify the base and proceed to make inroads amongst Independents.
Combine the stronger poll-testing of Mr. Perriello with his electoral history in the 5th District. While Creigh Deeds lost the 5th by an amazing 61%-39% margin, Perriello won the district in an upset in 2008 and lost by less than 9,000 votes in a Republican Wave in 2010, despite being outspent and being in a district labeled R+5 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index. Perriello's presence at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2013 could undoubtedly put together a winning coalition of highly enthusiastic Democratic base voters in North Virginia and Independent/Rural/Moderate voters in the Western regions of the state.
Finally is Mr. Perriello's viability. Some have pointed out that Senator Warner's possible entrance in to the race and Mr. McAuliffe's certain entrance into the race makes a Periello candidacy non-viable. This is simply not so, though. Mark Warner has given few, if any, indications that he plans to run. Leaving Mr. McAuliffe's likely candidacy, it entirely absurd to believe that the Democratic nomination is locked up a little under a year until the primary. 60% of Virginians haven't heard of or have no opinion of Terry McAuliffe. If Mr. Perriello has a committed base of support prior to entering the race, it is perfectly believable that he would be just as every bit as “viable” as Mr. McAuliffe. Given that Mr. Perriello has higher favorabilities amongst Democrats and also does better with them in head-to-head matchups against the Republicans than McAuliffe, it seems highly unlikely to think of the Democratic race as over before it's begun.
So finally I leave you with an appeal. Whatever your belief in the political climate of Virginia in 2013, one thing is certain. We need a strong leader to head the ticket, run an aggressive campaign and have a record of progressive accomplishment and integrity. Tom Perriello fits the bill on all fronts. Take the time to sign this petition encouraging Perriello to seek the Democratic nomination and visit www.drafttom.webs.com to keep up with the Draft efforts!