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.