Why Governor McAuliffe Needs Ralph Northam as Lt. Governor

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    Democrats need to think more than one move ahead. If we can see to it that Terry McAuliffe becomes Virginia’s next Governor, then we have to see to it that he is a successful Governor, that his brilliant agenda is enacted by the legislature—- and not stymied by the usual (mostly)  Republican obstructionism. That means that Governor McAuliffe needs a Lieutenant Governor who, as President of the Senate, knows the ropes, understands how to work with the rampant Senatorial egos on both sides of the aisle, who knows how to manipulate Senate rules, who knows where the bodies are buried (so to speak, of course) — and who is not following his own agenda, sparking ideas right and left, in what could well amount to a rival program.

    McAuliffe, hyper-active and brimming with energy himself, needs someone calm and experienced presiding over the Senate, someone who can be an anchor, a steady hand capable of pushing through what will undoubtedly be red-flag-anathema legislation to conservatives, and that clearly is Senator Ralph Northam. Without a politically experienced hand at the helm of the Senate, McAuliffe’s agenda could well be toast.

    I understand progressives’ fascination with Aneesh Chopra,  I feel the same pull myself, I understand how Chopra wants to re-define the office of Lt. Governor, and agree with him in that respect. He is brilliant, with stunning new ideas—- just not right now for this election.  There should be a place for him in the McAuliffe administration, and I believe he should eventually serve Virginia in state-wide elected office, he is too valuable to waste.  

    Ask yourself, though, would it be the best use of his obvious talents to be trying to help McAuliffe enact McAuliffe’s agenda over the next few years? Would today’s Virginians actually elect two hyper-active idea-men to the two highest offices in the Commonwealth at the same time? Both from Northern Virginia? Not too likely, I fear. Chopra’s turn will come.

    In the meantime, think about how Northam, who has been correct on all the issues dear to progressives (just not in a flashy way), who has been an outstanding champion of women’s rights, who has been a rock-solid Democrat in the trenches in the Senate, and who is not from Northern Virginia can add balance to the Democratic ticket, pull out voters from Tidewater and (I hesitate to say it) ROVA (Rest of Virginia) —- and help McAuliffe where he will need it most, in the Virginia Senate. Ralph Northam for Lieutenant Governor.

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      I agree with much of what you have said. My fear is that the NoVa vote in a low-turnout practically assures Chopra a place on the ticket. Chopra’s campaign in ROVA has also been more active than Northam. I see the primary as a toss-up.

      Chopra’s benefit is to bring at least some diversity to a ticket that is pretty vanilla. Your argument that Northam would be extremely valuable in guiding legislation through the General Assembly depends on Democrats gaining in the House. As of now, the GOPers can override governor’s vetoes in the House.

    • pontoon

      The “Rest of Virginia” as you have termed us, has had little to no contact with most of the Democratic candidates running for statewide office.  I’m sure because we aren’t NOVA or Tidewater…where “all” the votes can be found.  Obviously, ROVA isn’t needed to win statewide elections.  The campaigns have seemingly recognized there just aren’t enough votes in ROVA, so why bother.  

      I agree with Elaine that Mr. Chopra has done the best job of the candidates in at least my portion of ROVA.  Lately, it seems that Mr. Northam has recognized that Mr. Chopra might have gained an advantage in ROVA and is throwing out a bone or two.

      We get all the emails asking for money from all the candidates, but that’s about it.  They want our money, but not much else.

      I’ll give an example of just how ignored most of ROVA feels:  A very active vice chair of a local ROVA Dem committee said she had never felt so uninformed about candidates before an election.  She didn’t know for whom she might vote, because the candidates have made little to no effort to inform her.  

      Another local committee contacted each of the candidates requesting palm cards or other info to hand out at a local event where the Dem Committee had a booth…two statewide candidates sent information…Chopra and Fairfax.  Over 1500 folks attended the event…too bad the Dem Committee did not have information for all the candidates.

      If statewide candidates, including Mr. Northam, want to win a statewide primary…including votes from ROVA, they should make the effort to get them.

    • kindler

      As far as I can tell, nothing works with today’s tea party whack job Republicans other than beating them.  They don’t care about Obama’s mandate, they don’t care that they’ve lost everyone outside of white voters, they don’t care even when 90% of the electorate is against them on an issue.  

      They don’t care because they see themselves, like Dan Acroyd in the Blues Brothers, “on a mission from God.”  It doesn’t matter if the LG is calm and goes hunting with them and gives them back rubs and feeds them bon-bons.  THEY DON’T CARE.

    • churchlanddem

      I think it makes a lot more sense to have a candidate running for President of the Senate that is actually a well respected Senator.

      Frankly both men seem to be good on the issues. Chopra from what I can tell just seems to be looking for a launching pad for a political career. Northam is the better candidate for the job they are running for.

    • BatCave

      There are two things that I think need to happen if Dems want to win these three statewide races::

      1. McAuliffe spends 20 million dollars trashing Cooch over women’s health issues – birth control, abortion, Planned Parenthood and the vaginal probe, effectively nationalizing the race.  He has to make Cooch such the boogeyman that it will drive out a female voters in the urban crescent (NOVA, Richmond and its suburbs and Hampton Roads) just like Wilder did so effectively in 1989 using abortion as the wedge to peal away the GOP’s female base in NOVA, but he has to start that ASAP.  Cooch is trying to go to the middle and the McAuliffe campaign needs to nail him to the wall.

      2. In an attempt to turnout younger voters and minority voters, nominate Aneesh Chopra for Lt. Governor and Justin Fairfax for Attorney General.  Women, minority voters and gays and lesbians are the keys to almost every race for the Dems so Dems can’t keep nominating white men for these offices.  We need younger candidates who can provide some excitement for this ticket with younger voters who can hopefully relate to these candidates.  

      Some Virginia Dems are living in a bubble where they think we have to nominate Republican light type of candidates, but we don’t.  Our voters are there and if we can turn them out in these statewide races, we can turn this now purple state blue.  

    • Remind me how well Northam handled the Republicans as they managed to sneak through new restrictions on abortion clinics through the Democratic State Senate. There is simply no evidence that Northam has any skill in manipulating Senate rules.

    • Bludog

      I’m an old hand.  Been in this game for a long time.  It’s really not much of a choice, really.

      Choppra is young and smart and techy and Obamay.  All of that is great.  But he’s also 100% NOVAy and non-mainstreamy.  Yeah he’s appealing to YDs, very very  few of whom will show up.  And even if they do, he is completely unknown to the general electorate and won’t matter a whit in the Big Election.  

      RN brings Hampton Roads cred, and a base.  Now, they probably won’t vote a whit in June either, but they will in November when they will be needed.

      And gosh knows, if you have a 20-20 Senate (shame on Saslaw and McEachin, for a total failure of epic consequences – both should be fired for cause), don’t you want a Dem as LG?  Come on, now.  It’s practical and real for all Dem causes.  There’s an argument that you need Ralph presiding big time right now.  Come on.

      McAuliffe is going to be fine in NOVA and needs draw elsewhere.  So if you are a Dem who cares about real results, you need draw and votes elsewhere other than in NOVA.  

      All I’m saying is that Choppra can be the Second Coming but in politics that doesn’t matter.  Dems are famous for screwing things up.  I’d like to see some people get organized and smart for a change.  Chop is NOT going to be Governor one day, but Ralph can easily been seen there.  Put the pieces together and you have Supreme Court appointments (assuming deadlock), transportation smart growth, water and environmental initiatives, etc.  That’s what we want, and a veto over the stupid stuff.  

      This is a pretty clear choice – a young smart guy vs someone who is a difference maker.  

      For the record, I am not paid by or declared publicly for either under my name.  I’ve told both that I’m not going public because of not wanting to make enemies on “my side.”  So this is what I think, “off the record.”

    • pashin

      One factor that would appear to be relevant in this context is that electing either or both sitting Senators to statewide office will put the balance in the Senate in jeopardy.  Democrats statewide will have to rally round, very shortly after the General Election, to elect other Democratic candidates in two special elections in two separate parts of the state. Or else Lt. Gov. Northam will have very much less power and influence, and Gov. McAuliffe’s program will be largely a defensive one involving very frequent use of the veto.

      I do not think that this should be a decisive factor and for the record I am not endorsing or publicly supporting any candidate in this primary. However, I did want to take the opportunity to remind about this wrinkle and raise consciousness about the possible tasks ahead. I would also welcome those who know Sen Districts 33 and 6 better than I do to help us understand the extent of the challenges that special elections in these districts might or might not pose.