Last night in Charlottesville, Tom Perriello was asked why he’s running for governor and not taking on Tom Garrett for Congress (note: I find the entire premise of the question to be absurd and completely wrongheaded, but be that as it may…) or whatever. Perriello’s response basically sums up the thinking behind his campaign. Here’s a partial transcript, followed by the video (bolding added by me for emphasis):
I mean, the simple answer is I think I give Democrats the best chance to win and I don’t think we had a winning strategy. And as a lifelong Virginian, I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and watch a group of Democrat leaders sit in a back room and tell everyone they have to back a losing strategy. [APPLAUSE]
The establishment made a big mistake. Why, when you look at the three election cycles, anyone would think that the smart thing to do is to decide a year ahead of time, when you don’t even know what the political landscape is, that a group of all-male party leaders are going to get together and decide who the nominee should be, you haven’t been paying attention…to the voters and that’s part of the problem...So, what we’ve done for the last three election cycles statewide in Virginia is we’ve clung to the strategy that has gotten us three victories, all of them less than 50%: Mark Warner, Terry McAuliffe and Hillary Clinton…all below 50% of the vote.
We need someone who knows how to win in the entire state, someone who is not afraid to be progressive and turn out the fullness of our coalition…We write off too many Democratic voters…We are more progressive a Democratic state than we used to be. People are so scared that we might lose the election that they don’t dare to think we might actually win it by a bunch of points and win the House of Delegates…This is a chance for an unprecedented Democratic victory, but we’re not going to do it with the stale, old playbook…
In terms of “waiting your turn,” first of all, I don’t think there’s probably an argument more tone deaf with the electorate at this point than that one…The fact is…this is nothing against Ralph, who’s a wonderful guy, [but] in modern Virginia history, Virginians don’t elect Lt. Governors as Governor. There’s only one since the ’80s and that was Tim Kaine, who was a former mayor when Mark Warner was at 78% approval…Lt. Governor’s not actually a very good launching platform, because people don’t look and see an executive position; they want somebody who’s been running organizations, building staff, driving a diplomatic strategy, driving a legislative strategy.
So I think I give us the best chance to win. I think that’s why our campaign’s taken off. I think it’s why it’s not just obviously scared the Northam campaign, but by all reports it’s scared the bejeezus out of the Ed Gillespie campaign, and I’m ok with that.