Home Virginia Politics Ralph Northam’s “Power Sharing”

Ralph Northam’s “Power Sharing”

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(As we close on election week, we’ll see how self-destructive Virginia Democratic politics can be. – promoted by Dan Sullivan)


State Sen. Ralph Northam (D) (VCU CNS)

Voters deserve to get what they voted for.  New York’s “Independent Democratic Caucus” and Washington State’s “Majority Caucus Coalition” don’t seem to care. Neither, apparently, does Virginia State Senator Ralph Northam. This morning, Northam reiterated his openness to “power sharing” with Republicans if a duly elected Democratic majority in the State Senate happens.

While the chattering class of activists, consultants, hacks and flacks that is likely reading this will often be astonished or frustrated by the whims of the electorate, the basic principle that voters deserve what they voted for is fundamental to our existence. Even if it’s not what we wanted, if the voters choose a Republican, the voters should get one. That’s why the very idea that Democrats might nominate State Senator Ralph Northam for Lieutenant Governor is even more galling than nominating an actual turncoat.

In case anyone has forgotten, Northam was minutes away from handing control of key Senate committees away from a duly elected Democratic majority over a judgeship spat. This alone was troubling enough, but it’s absolutely appalling that he would not only lie about what actually happened as if we didn’t have the internet, but he would also think about repeating this maneuver.

What Northam proposes is more sinister. He appears to suffer from the same self-delusions that afflicts “Democrats” in other upper chambers, like the New York State Senate and the Washington State Senate. In both states, voters elected a Democratic majority in the chamber, only to find that certain Democrats thought they knew better.


The New York State Capitol (joseph a)

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a party switcher. While many are opportunistic turncoats, I take a more pragmatic view if their voting record is honest. I don’t regret supporting the few that I have like State Senator Dave Marsden, who since his election has racked up a strong voting record for what was (pre-2011) a decidedly moderate seat. But I’d trust a party switcher who honestly faced the voters more than a “power sharing” weasel. This distinction wasn’t lost on Albert Watson or Phil Gramm, both of whom resigned their seats after leaving the Democratic party and faced their constituents as Republicans in special elections and won. While this move had the self-serving purpose of increasing the legitimacy of their party switch, the principle behind it still stands. Voters deserve what they voted for. A party switcher gives voters enough credit to decide for themselves which party they want.

In New York last December, five Democratic Senators formed an “Independent Democratic Coalition” which gave Republicans most of the power, while Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo impotently allowed it to happen, barely lifting a finger to ensure an actual Democratic majority.

That same month in Washington, two Democrats formed the “Majority Caucus Coalition. In response, Washington Democrats grew a backbone and blasted them for “gross disloyalty” and “perfidious behavior”, permanently barring them from accessing party resources and calling for their expulsion from the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Voters should trust that what they voted for is what they get, whether it is a Democrat or a Republican. They deserve more than being insulted by State Senators who think they know better.

This is not just an issue of tribal loyalty. Brazenly contravening the will of the voters by handing control of key committees to a party voters did not choose is perfidious treason that severely hampers the passage of a progressive budget or legislation. Regardless of Northam’s personal beliefs on women’s rights, the environment, voting reform, and education, a change in committee structures will be far more damaging than his votes would have helped.

The last time Ralph Northam tried to pull his power-sharing shenanigans, Democrats couldn’t afford to expel him and lose his seat. What Democrats can do is prevent him from being the standardbearer of a cheap party that has no self-respect. On June 11th, Virginia Democrats have a choice. Will they be New York, or Washington? Virginia Democrats should emulate Washington’s Democrats, and not Andrew Cuomo, and vote against Ralph Northam.

Twitter: @KentonNgo, crosspost