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My Concern About Ralph Northam — and Why on June 13, I Will Vote for Tom Perriello

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by Andy Schmookler

Like other Virginia Democrats I know, I will strongly support whoever is the Democratic nominee for governor this fall against any possible Republican nominee.

And like many other Democrats I know, I recognize the importance of making sure that the Democratic primary race does no damage to the prospects for a Democratic victory in November.

But at the same time we do have a choice to make in the Democratic Primary in June. And while I believe that either candidate would make a good governor, that choice does not seem to me trivial.

There is one thing that looms largest for me in making my choice.

It’s something of a kind that would not weigh so heavily if these were normal political times. But they are not normal, and have not been for quite a while. It is important, in my view, that we have leaders now who understand the dangerous forces at work in these times at the deep level in American politics.

For a great many people, the election of Donald Trump to the presidency set off alarm bells. But it also must be understood that Trump’s rise to the presidency didn’t just happen, as if some foreign power suddenly invaded the United States and foisted upon us a dangerous man to rule us. No, his election is irrefutable evidence that something must already have gone terribly wrong in our body politic to make the victory of such a man even conceivable.

The most important political truth of our times is that some deep dynamics in the American power system are threatening all that’s best in America.

Two elements of Ralph Northam’s record lead me to believe that Ralph Northam doesn’t get this, that he lacks awareness of this deep level at which the crucial battle for the soul of America is being fought.

The more recent piece of evidence concerns how Ralph Northam dealt with the election of Donald Trump. Up until Tom Perriello had entered the race and had clearly struck a chord with many voters with his impassioned messages about the danger posed by Trump, to the best of my knowledge Northam did not act as if the election of Trump was a potentially catastrophic development threatening the integrity of America.

By itself, Northam’s not expressing alarm, or calling us to battle, could be interpreted in a variety of ways.

For example, one can imagine a candidate making the judgment that, with forty-some percent of the Virginia electorate having voted for Donald Trump, it would not be a smart political strategy to risk alienating so many voters by speaking the alarming truth about the leader they had supported. After all, at that point, Northam had no reason to believe he would face competition for the nomination. So, a politician in Northam’s position in the post-election period might reasonably decide it would be more important stay on the good side of voters across the political spectrum than to spark the passions of the Democratic base.

But, troublingly, there is another fact about Northam’s political history that suggests an alterntive explanation of Northam’s lack of a strong public response to Trump’s election.

I’m referring to the fact, widely reported, that Northam voted twice for George W. Bush for president.

Now, I can imagine someone voting for Bush in 2000, “compassionate conservative” that W then could semi-plausibly claim himself to be.

But 2004 was an entirely different matter.

By 2004, the dark nature of the Bush presidency was already blatantly obvious to anyone with eyes to see. With Rove and Cheney at his side, Bush had willfully demolished the nation’s post-9/11 national unity, using the “war on terror” dishonestly and for purely partisan advantage. He had lied us into a war. (Indeed, the rampant lying of the Bush presidency helped prepare the way for our present liar-in-chief.)

The manifold wrong-doings of the Bush presidency were already, by 2004 — to use the title of the book by John Dean, who was in a position to know — “worse than Watergate.”

(For me, Bush’s re-election in 2004 was literally a life-changing event. It was the most disturbing political event of my life — up until this November — and after a painful, sleepless night I resolved upon the path of fighting the dark force that had just prevailed, a path I’ve been on ever since.)

But Northam voted to give George W. Bush — who was probably the worst president in American history before now, being more willfully destructive than such another contender for that prize as James Buchanan — a second term.

I don’t know what he did or did not see or understand, that enabled him to imagine that a second term for W was preferable for the nation than the election of the unfairly swift-boated John Kerry. But like any other voter, I am compelled to draw what conclusions I can from the evidence I possess.

Putting together Northam’s apparent lack of agitation about the election of so grotesque a man as Donald Trump with his having voted twice for George W. Bush the conclusion I draw about Ralph Northam is this:

If he is our next governor, he may well be excellent on a whole range of policy measures. For all I know, he may be a good administrator and able to play his cards with the legislature with skill. I’ve met him and he seems a decent guy.

But I don’t believe that he is tuned in to the level in our political life where the most important political battle is being waged.

The evidence of American history since the turn of the millennium suggests to me that being right on the issues is insufficient. Those who are right on the issues but neglect the more profound level of the political fight — destructive vs. constructive, lying vs. truth-telling, caring vs. cruel — have limited success at best. (And meanwhile, our democracy is being dismantled, and our cultural integrity degraded.)

In this profound battle, we need to hand as much power as possible to those who are aware of that deeper level, and in whom that battle arouses a moral passion to fight for the soul of our America.

That’s why — though in November I’ll vote for which ever of our Democratic candidates is on the ballot — on June 13, I will vote for Tom Perriello.

  • Another Scott

    Good post, and such things give me pause as well. As does the apparent misinformation that Northam considered switching parties in 2009. We shouldn’t put too much stock in rumors, though – especially rumors that can hurt our efforts to drive up turnout in the fall.

    Honestly, though, 2004 was a political lifetime ago. And Virginia isn’t a giant-majority-lefty state that is just waiting for someone to pick up the flag and lead us to a glorious future. Even in the best of circumstances, there is going to be strong opposition to anything Team D proposes and we need a fighter who can also work with the GOP when necessary, while we work to run up the score in the fall.

    I think they’re both good candidates, and both have flaws, and in a way they can complement each other’s weaknesses. Let’s see how they do in the debates and how they react to the unexpected. Let’s not give too much weight to (rumored) decisions 10+ years ago.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.
    (Who hasn’t made up his mind yet.)

    • What I’d like to understand is Ralph Northam’s intellectual journey from being a lifelong Republican (up until 2004? 2005? 2006? beyond?) to being a Democrat. When I first sat down in late 2005 with Jim Webb, that’s the first question I asked him, and he responded with a 20-minute tour of history, Jacksonian Democracy, Vietnam, and lots more. It was fascinating, and it helped me feel comfortable that he really had moved from “R” to “D.” I don’t believe I’ve ever seen/heard something similar from Ralph Northam.

      • Another Scott

        I don’t know much about Ralph, but he seems like a complex guy. He’s very strongly pro-choice, and it’s hard to understand how someone could be (or could have been) a Republican (since ~ 1980 or so) with those views.

        ¯_(ツ)_/¯

        Cheers,
        Scott.

      • notjohnsmosby

        Maybe you should interview him again and ask him how he’s moved from “D” to “Whatever” he is today. He changes his political allegiances on a regular basis.

        • vadem58

          Misinformation and exaggeration aren’t helpful in legitimate debates. Lt. Governor Northam became a Democrat in 2007 when he first ran for public office and has remained a Democrat since then. He’s a Democrat and his legislative record proves that. To suggest that “he changes his political allegiances on a regular basis,” is nothing more than a smear. I dare say that Lt. Governor Northam’s voting record is far more progressive than that of former Congressman Perriello’s when it comes to women’s rights and guns. Who is the real Perriello? The one who was casting votes in 2008 or the one who’s claiming to be the progressive now?

          • notjohnsmosby

            We were talking about Jim Webb, not Ralph. Reading comprehension is helpful in legitimate debates.

          • vadem58

            I apologize for misunderstanding. When the original post begins and ends with Ralph Northam, you opted for pronouns rather than nouns, there were numerous posts in between the original post and your post including an interview by Ralph Northam, and the those posts veered in a different direction, you should understand how I might have been confused.

      • DevotedSkeptic

        Northam nearly caucused w State House GOP as recently as 2009, and Dem colleagues had to shame him into re-aligning his weak party loyalty. (This is published fact, not “misinformation” as Another Scott says above.) Northam is ho-hum, Perriello has energy and passion.

        • Just FYI, Ralph was in the State Senate, not the House.

        • vadem58

          In this day of “alternative facts,” I’d like to see your proof. If it’s not from a scholarly source, I wouldn’t pay much attention. I asked my VA State Senator who served with Northam in the Senate if this was true and he said that it wasn’t. He said that Ralph Northam is one of the finest people he’s ever had the honor to serve beside. He also said that Republicans approached Northam to try to flip him, but that Northam told them he wasn’t interested in changing parties. Give me a ho-hum (your description, not mine) man with a stellar personal and legislative record any day of the week – that’s my kind of energy and passion. I want a Governor who has proven that he knows how to get things done – someone who is driven by service to others (military, a pediatric neurologist who volunteers for children in hospice) rather than self-promotion.

          • LHarrisonF

            Is this where we are now in our elections? Demanding proof for well known events? I guess some people won’t believe reality.

            http://www.kentonngo.com/2013/06/02/ralph-northams-perfidy/

            Northam’s engagement with Republicans was well reported.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nztsL-EDr_I

            Northam has outright lied when his history has been brought up. It’s shameful to see people lie to cover him up.

          • vadem58

            You’re actually siting a blogger as credible evidence? He’s basically saying that if any Democrat is willing to compromise to move things forward, he’s not a Democrat. That’s what statesmen do! They work with the other side to find common ground. The evidence in Rachel Maddow’s video clip is as thin as Mr. Schmookler’s argument in his essay. Come on. Anybody can say anything about anybody and if a left-wing blogger writes an essay, we’re supposed to believe it with no questions asked? Isn’t that akin to FOX viewers believing everything that Sean Hannity says? Rachel has a tweet and then builds a story around it. Do you honestly think that if this had happened, Ralph Northam would enjoy the support of all of Virginia’s elected Democrats?

      • LHarrisonF

        What would his timeline be? Frustration that his brother was being blocked from a judgeship by a Republican State Senator, a campaign that focused mostly on personal attacks and the extremism of said State Senator, an early time in office in which he embraced the Virginia Way (but had to be told by the powers that be that he couldn’t secure the judgeship for his brother, since he was now in office), a threat to flip the State Senate to the GOP (which he has been lying about since 2013), a mediocre primary race in which he was pushed over the top by crossover votes from Republicans, a general election in which he emphasized his distance from the left, opposition to big government, and disdain of the liberal label, and now another campaign defined more by negative attacks against his opponent than anything positive about himself.

        Northam is the quintessential Virginia Democrat of the 1980s. Doing everything possible to embrace the establishment, cultivating an image of a serious senior statesman detached from those crazy liberals in the national party. His vision of the Governorship and the vision spelled out by his supporters, of a seat warmer just checking the power of the GOP General Assembly, isn’t enough for the modern Dominion, the Virginia of the 21st Century.

        • DevotedSkeptic

          …and speaking of Dominion, Tom Perriello is much more committed to countering Dominion Power, which is pouring coal ash into the James river, pushing Appalachian pipeline

          • vadem58

            I think you’re confusing State regulations with Federal Regulations. President Trump is the one who is relaxing federal EPA regulations to allow the dumping of Coal Ash and FERC controls the Appalachian Pipeline. The fact of the matter is that neither of these issues fall under the control of a state governor so Tom Perriello’s commitment is a moot point. Let’s judge our candidates on their commitments to things they can actually influence in their position as Governor.

        • vadem58

          This sounds like fake news with a dash of Russian troll.

        • Withheld Information

          “and now another campaign defined more by negative attacks against his opponent than anything positive about himself.”

          That is a blatant lie. Northam’s campaign has been far more specific and detailed than Perriello’s.

      • S. Lowe

        Not sure that “feeling comfortable” with Jim Webb translates to any kind of analysis with Ralph Northam’s beliefs. I might feel comfortable with Franklin Graham’s sermons on helping the poor but it might not translate into any assumption about his support of ADA or Obamacare. The Northam years of experience in Richmond have value and are on the record; not to be compared with Jim Webb’s vast foreign service experience. I am voting for Governor of VA, not a State Department appointee.

      • vadem58

        From his interview with the New York Times on why he voted for Bush:

        Ever since I first ran for public office, I have fought for my values: commonsense gun reforms, protecting our environment, defending women’s access to reproductive health care, fighting for equal rights for the LGBT community, and economic opportunity for all Virginians.

        At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to politics. Knowing what I know now, I was wrong and would have voted differently. I became politically engaged after becoming fed up with insurance companies affecting my patients and learning my Republican senator said a child with disabilities was possessed by “demons,” which deeply offended me as a father and a doctor.

        So, I decided to run for office on the issues I cared about: fixing our healthcare system and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. I stood up for implementing commonsense gun reforms, ensuring the LGBT community was given equal rights, and defending women’s access to reproductive health care.

        If there is a lesson Democrats should take away from 2016, it’s that voters sometimes vote against their values. Usually, they are doing it because they aren’t aware that they actually share the same values as the Democratic party. As someone who made that realization when I became engaged, there is no better person to reach these people than me.

  • Joe Mancini

    What exactly does anyone think Tom will do/won’t do as opposed to Ralph? Let’s keep in mind that the main job of VA Governor is to act as a check on the GA. The opportunity to pursue a genuinely progressive agenda through legislation is slim. I wasn’t so sure about Ralph four years ago, but everything I have seen since then indicates to me that he will do what a Democratic Governor needs to do in the Old Dominion. Not to say that I don’t like Tom, but suffice to say that Ralph has run, and won, statewide and that counts for something.

    • Perseus1986

      What exactly does anyone think Tom will do as opposed to Ralph?- Win in November.

      • Patrick Hogan

        Realistically why? Because of his years of experience with the GA? Because he’s not a Bernie gadfly once again looking for a job? Because this writer chose to remain ignorant of and still tout as his 2nd primary concern about Ralph the fact that he voted for Bush in 2004? How about one of you asking him about it. He’s addressed it. Face it, Ralph’s got a better chance of winning and you’re ignoring that likelihood because your pop-ideology is stronger than your pragmatism.

        • Polling has consistently showed Ralph and Tom with the same chance of beating Gillespie – very high. So that argument’s not valid at all.

          • Patrick Hogan

            Sure it is. Combine that polling you mention with historical VA voter behavior which shows on-the-fence voter migration toward incumbent candidates upon election day, and Ralph’s your favorite.

          • Neither Ralph nor Tom is the incumbent governor. Plus, where are you getting this “historical VA voter behavior” from? Link(s)?

          • Patrick Hogan
          • Let’s review the past few elections.

            1997: LG Don Beyer was the Democratic nominee for governor, lost to Republican Jim Gilmore
            2001: Mark Warner, who had never held elective office, was the Democratic nominee for governor and won
            2005: Tim Kaine, who was the LG to Mark Warner, was elected governor
            2009: State Sen. Creigh Deeds was the Dem nominee for governor, lost to Repubican Bob McDonnell
            2013: Terry McAuliffe, who had never held elective office, defeated AG Ken Cuccinelli (R) to become governor.

            Not seeing any correlation here, but I’d note that 2 of the past 3 Dems elected Virginia governor had never held elective office.

          • Butterbytes

            In this case both have, and one has a conservative democrat voting record in Congress

        • Perseus1986

          A quick Wikipedia search shows that since the New Year, recent polling has Ralph Northam beating Gillespie in 2 polls and losing in 3, while in those same polls Tom Perriello wins in 3, ties Gillespie in 1 and loses in 1 in January (when he just announced his bid). How does that equal Ralph having a better chance, or are you looking at different polls, or just a hunch?

          • Butterbytes

            have you checked the details, methodology of the polls? If you did, You might not trust them that much. Remember how the absolutely faulty Prof. Kidd, Christopher Newport University poll killed Medicaid Expansion?

          • Perseus1986

            Those are multiple polls by different entities, where in one case, the same pollster had Northam losing to Gillespie and Perriello winning. But if you throw out polls, and granted, especially after the last election they shouldn’t be relied on, by what means or reasons should it be believed that Northam has a better chance of beating Gillespie than Perriello?

        • Cynthia Munley

          Northam vs. Perriello = Clinton vs. Sanders. Northam may be an insider but he is lackluster in dynamism. He won’t get the party excited, get out the young people. Do you propose the party should again make the same mistake and go for the Clintonlike candidate who lacks the charisma to beat Gillespie in the fall? I’ve had it with the party Clintonites. The heart of the fight right now is these pipelines being forced on us by corporations with no local benefit and Virginians fighting like hell on the local level to keep them from exacting horrific violence to our mountains. Schmookler is right about Northam’s naivete on deep issues.

        • Michael McCabe

          Among 2016 non-voters (28% of eligible voters in VA), Gillespie beats Northam by 18 points. But Perriello beats Gillespie by 10 points in the same demographic.

          In terms of pop-ideology vs. pragmatism, Tom is the only candidate to release a plan to actually pay for all of his propositions. He’s also got 2 points on Northam vs Gillespie.

      • DevotedSkeptic

        and energize the Dem base to vote and elect more Dems in GA.

      • S. Lowe

        I am of the considered opinion that a candidate who enters a nationally-watched race a few months before the crucial primary has little regard for Party or Commonwealth. Sailing in on a cloud of PR progressivism seems a wrong-headed strategy to keep Virginia blue. I’d like to see Tom earn some stripes back at home, and, then run against Garrett for Congressman. I’m thinking that there’s an idea of national politics underlying Tom’s run now.

        • Cynthia Munley

          Meanwhile we lose the pipeline fights.

  • Paul K

    I feel much the same way. Northam’s campaign was quite boring and uninspired before Perriello jumped into the race. Northam has done a better job lately of communicating and developing a message but I think Perriello has the passion that we need.

    • S. Lowe

      “Passion” and a dollar gets you a small coffee somewhere. Northern Neck, Tidewater, Northern VA, and metro areas seem to view work and commitment with a bit more regard than passion. And, since January 2017 how hot and real can “passion” be? All of us are incensed at Trump’s win; but we might need to regard a bit of gravitas in Richmond, especially since the Gov, AG and both our US Senators have endorsed Lt Gov Ralph Northam.

  • A_Siegel

    My thoughts, today, as to why I’ms “Choosing Tom”: http://getenergysmartnow.com/2017/04/14/choosing-tom/ with the same declaration that, without hesitation as to who is the nominee, I will work to get a Democrat into the Governor’s mansion yet again.

  • Jerel C. Wilmore

    Another vague declaration by a Perriello supporter that more angels dance on top of Perriello’s pinhead than Northam’s pinhead without offering any real evidence.

    Bottom line, Northam is far more experienced when it comes to the processes of Virginia government. He has been at the center of Virginia politics for the last ten years and has a solid record of electoral success.

    Tom Periello has about as much credibility as Professor Harold Hill when he shows up and starts singing “(Ya Got) Trouble” to the citizens of River City, Iowa.

    • Andy Schmookler

      I have no reason to doubt, Jerel C. Wilmore, that you are right about the extent of experience the two men bring to VIrginia’s government. And all things being equal, that is probably a plus for Northam.

      But I have no particular reason to believe that Perriello could not hire himself people all Northam knows and more, to guide him through Virginia’s governmental process.

      And not all things are equal, as I lay out in my essay in an argument that you do absolutely nothing to deal with, or even acknowledge that I made. Substituting insult and sarcasm for any engagement with the argument is something I’d have expected from a right wing troll?

      Are you perchance some right-winger, coming in to attack and deride your likely opponent in the fall? Or has that right-wing tendency to substitute attitude for any honest search for the truth jumped across our partisan divide?

      I have long been making the case for the importance of the idea that our real political battle is at a different level from that which liberals have engaged in. And I suggest that Northam’s apparent obtuseness about that battle does not ode well for his being able to lead against today’s Republican Party.

      We need a strong voice, I believe, to go at the Republicans in terms of their real defects. Like hammering them on the failure to extend Medicaid in Virginia — the billions it has cost us, the lives made harder — and the dark and indenfensible reason they refused to make the most of Obamacare,

      The GOP should be drained of its power, its legitimacy, and its credibility. Then the pathway will open up to using the government of Virginia to best effect.

      • Jerel C. Wilmore

        Actually you pompous dumbass, we spoke on the phone for about half an hour once, before I decided you weren’t worth my time.

        • Charming.

        • Andy Schmookler

          What a deft reply. My arguments crumble before your powerful logic.

      • Withheld Information

        “deride your likely opponent in the fall” He’s complimenting Northam, not deriding him.

  • Butterbytes

    This article, in its many forms on many websites, is becoming really offensive. I am supporting Ralph Northam because for the last 4 years he has been there for Virginians everyday, fighting discrimination, sexism, fighting for health care, modernizing of schools and support of public schools, I don’t care who he voted for i n 2000. especially when Gore distanced himself from Bill Clinton. I do care that he served in active duty using a scalpel and operating tools to treat soldiers injured in Desert Storm and that for the past seventeen years he has volunteer service as Medical Director for the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth and volunteers his medial services every week. Where exactly was Perriello during the last Presidential election, because Ralph was everywhere, supporting candidates, attending rallies, If you want to look at the past then Perriello records is solidly conservative democrat. He voted several times for the war, had an A+ rating from NRA and voted against women’s health care. Additionally, his association with Soros, Move On and Avaaz may help him in the primary with the use of social media techniques and funding, but will be bound to haunt him if he wins the primary. I know exactly where Ralph Northam stands on the issues, Perriello not so much. General statements are great, we all love education and jobs, but we have seen what and how Northam (and McAuliffe) are tackling modernization of education and job training for the 21st century Virginia and how they have been a firewall against a tea party, religious white group of legislators. How is Perriello a better candidate or more progressive than Northam? We can’t afford to lose this. Vet your candidates equally ob the issues not on emotional issues please. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/thomas_perriello/412304

    • DevotedSkeptic

      where was Perriello during the last campaign? He was *in Africa* serving as a State Dept envoy. sheesh.

      • “Sheesh?” Because Tom Perriello was serving our country (as part of the Obama administration) in Africa? That’s supposed to be a bad thing? Alrighty then…

        • Will Devon

          I think DS was expressing disapproval towards the OP’s dismissive attitude and defending Periello, not attacking him.

          • Ahhhh…I think you’re right. My bad.

      • Michael McCabe

        He was brokering peace deals on behalf of President Obama. Chill.

    • S. Lowe

      Butterbytes, you are – IMO – spot on. Your points are exactly what needs to be said and I appreciate your articulating them. The solid work ethic that our Lt Gov has established; his absolute commitment to this Commonwealth is beyond reproach. Northam’s been HERE for us. Northam’s attention to building a hard-won consensus in Richmond is of far greater value than being a gadfly in foreign service. My vote goes to a Virginian who’s been here, who knows and understands what it takes to move The Commonwealth forward and keep it Blue.

    • Andy Schmookler

      You talk about Northam’s vote in 2000. I talk about his vote in 2004.

      You may have good reasons for supporting Northam. But you really ignore my one big reason for preferring his opponent: Northam does not seem to understand what I regard as the main thing that needs to be understood about the state of our politics in this era.

      From your comment, it’s not clear whether you do either.

      • Withheld Information

        I think Northam understands Virginia politics and doesn’t want to turn a state election about the affairs and policies of Virginia into a referendum on Trump. In a time where we ought to demand more talk on the actual issues, I find it curious to see progressives abandon that talk of policy and how to help the people of a given state in favour of bashing a President we can’t do anything to remove.

        And as I said in my comment, Northam is a quiet man who listens first and then gives his opinion and thoughts. He’s not a firebrand and that shouldn’t disqualify him from being a good and viable candidate.

        • Andy Schmookler

          OK. Let’s forget about a referendum on Trump. How about just what the GOP does at the Virginia level– like refusing to extend Medicaid just to try to keep Obama from accomplishing his goals, even though it hurts some 400,000 Virginians?

          Will your “quiet man” see that for the disgrace that it is, see it in the larger context of a Party that continually puts partisan advantage ahead of the general good, and be able to wield his semi-bully pulpit to shame and defeat the practitioners of such politics?

          • Withheld Information

            Northam is a man who pushes for results. He’s not all talk. That’s why school boards endorse him, that’s why women activists and pro-choice organizations endorse him.

            He’s a man of quiet dignity, but using your bully pulpit is not just screeching from a podium at people. How many times did you see President Obama do that? There’s another man of cool reserve and yet considerable passion for the things he cared about.

            There’s a way of communicating those things with grace and dignity, as Northam will. But the time for that is not now. This is an election where we should talk about the issues.

          • vadem58

            I’m not sure why anybody thinks hot-headedness is a virtue but as for the “quiet man” fighting for medicaid expansion, who better to do that than someone who knows the medical field inside and out?

            In a New York Times Interview, Lt. Governor Northam said, “I became politically engaged after becoming fed up with insurance companies affecting my patients and learning my Republican senator said a child with disabilities was possessed by ‘demons,’ which deeply offended me as a father and a doctor.” What would make anybody think that somebody who got into politics partially because of his frustration with insurance companies wouldn’t fight for Medicaid expansion?

            These unfounded arguments against Lt. Governor Northam sound more like desperation – just throw stuff against the wall until something sticks. I guess if you don’t have any negative evidence, you have to rely on innuendo.

    • Aileen Caldwell Laing

      Not going to argue your points but to answer your question about where he was during the election, he was a special envoy appointed by Obama to replace Russ Feingold. Therefore couldn’t involve himself in the election.

      • Exactly. The concept that it was a bad thing for Tom Perriello to be serving his nation, in the Obama administration, is a bizarre, zombie talking point that really needs to die ASAP.

    • Jennifer Litton Tidd

      Not just 4 years, he was also a strong progressive state senator for 6 years before he was Lt. Gov. He led against the forced vaginal probe legislation abiht then sane time Perriello was voting for the anti-choice Stupak amendment in Congress. NARAL has endorsed Northam for a reason. Also, this fantasy that Periello has a better chance of winning? Polls? How about the polls of actual elections? Northam has won all 3 races in which he’s run and all 3 times by 10 point margins. Who wins in Virginia by 10 point margins? He won in a statewide election by 10 points, so the man clearly has a high win record. Perriello is won one by a slim margin and lost one. Screw polls. I’ll take the actual VOTES of Virginians in past elections.

  • Progressive Virginia

    Tom Perriello was the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a front organization for the health insurance industry and large corporations they take money form. The Center for American Progress directly lobbies in favor of positions that benefit their corporate donors.

  • vadem58

    This is the most unsophisticated article I’ve ever read. It has absolutely no concrete evidence and relies only on suppositions. Ralph Northam attended VMI, was in the military until 1992, and like most people in the military, assumed he was a conservative. When he was in the military, he would have been hard-pressed to find a television set that wasn’t tuned to FOX. He voted for Bush the first time because he assumed that Bush was the candidate most in line with his views. He was not politically active and admits that he wasn’t that wasn’t politically well informed. As a pediatric neurologist, he realized that while he considered himself to be a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, his values were more in line with the Democratic Party and he ran for the State Senate in 2007 as a Democrat. He was courted by the Republican Party but told them in no uncertain terms that he was a Democrat and planned to remain one. His votes and behavior as a legislator confirm that he’s a Democrat and his actions are the only evidence that should be considered. As for not having a meltdown when Trump was elected…Seriously? He’s a man who who volunteers to care for children in hospice. He’s an elected official. He’s a leader – a man in control of his emotions and the person I trust to be in charge of our state. Again, his votes as a legislator prove that he’s a progressive and a Democrat. Do all of your candidate’s votes in Congress prove that he’s progressive?

    • S. Lowe

      vadem58 Thank you for your clarity and your good points. “Passion” and PR have little to do with governance, and, the commitment that Ralph Northam has is unmatched.

    • Andy Schmookler

      Suppositions? I adduce two pieces of evidence about Northam. One — the vote for Bush in 2004 — is from Northam’s own statement. Supposition?

      The other — his lack of major response to what many of us believe to be a most dangerous political development, i.e. the election to the presidency of a man like Donald Trump — would be easy to refute if there were evidence to the contrary. But it is not in any event a supposition: it is an assertion based on a reasonably good command of the evidence of Northam’s conduct prior to Perriello’s striking a chord with his strong messages about Trump’s dangerous conduct.

      I say nothing about Northam to take away from any of the virtues you cite.

      What I say is that he has shown evidence of not being tuned in to what I declare — and have been declaring now for many years — the level at which the real battle in American politics is being waged.

      A man might be very good in a great many ways, without having that level of understanding. But I am arguing that such a lack of understanding is not what we most need in our political leaders at this particular moment in our nation’s history.

      • vadem58

        I still think suppositions is the correct noun. You are looking at two different incidences and calling them evidence while drawing conclusions based on your own fears or beliefs. He voted for President Bush twice. Evidently, a lot of people did. He wasn’t political at the time and assumed he was a Republican. Remember that Elizabeth Warren was a Republican until the mid-1990’s. People can change and so can their values. When Lt. Governor Northam became involved in politics, he learned that his values were more in line with the Democratic Party’s. His legislative record proves his allegiance.

        The fact that Lt. Governor Northam didn’t pull any fire alarms when Donald Trump was elected is an even thinner argument. Not everybody has a fiery temperament. Personally, I tend to gravitate toward cooler heads because I believe people who are in control of their emotions are more in control of their actions. It suggests that they’re thinking about what needs to be done and how they’re going to do it rather than trying to ignite chaos. I believe you’re mistaking reserve for a lack of understanding. If you have the opportunity to talk with Mr. Northam one-on-one, you may find that he understands far more than you give him credit for – he’s a brilliant and compassionate man who has served his country, his state, and the most vulnerable among us. He doesn’t need to stand on a soap box flailing his arms and pointing his finger to make his arguments or to make you think he “understands” – he’s more substance than flash. I’d argue that at this particular moment in our nation’s history, Lt. Governor Northam is exactly the type of political leader we need; we need leaders with measured temperaments.

        If your reason for writing this essay was to get readers to follow your lead and support Tom Perriello, you might have been more persuasive if you’d written about the former Congressman’s strengths rather than trying to cast aspersions on our current Lt. Governor. Most Democrats heard enough nonsense during the last election and I, for one, am suspicious of anybody who tries to cause more divisiveness. I’m going out on a limb and saying that we’re fortunate to have two well-qualified men running for Governor and that I’ll be proud to support our party’s nominee.

        • dave schutz

          It seems to me that a missing discussion here is ‘which guy can win?’. My guess is that, in Virginia – in which Hillary Clinton eked out only a four per cent win over a remarkably flamboyant and inexperienced populist – the steady and emollient qualities Ralph Northam displays are more likely winners.
          I could be wrong. But I see Tom Perriello as a representative of the ‘Sandersista’ wing of the party, and I don’t see that as a way to win the governorship here. Whether I am wrong or right, it seems to me that that is an important issue which BlueVa commenters ought to be thinking about.

  • Carter Turner

    “For example, one can imagine a candidate making the judgment that, with forty-some percent of the Virginia electorate having voted for Donald Trump, it would not be a smart political strategy to risk alienating so many voters by speaking the alarming truth about the leader they had supported. After all, at that point, Northam had no reason to believe he would face competition for the nomination. So, a politician in Northam’s position in the post-election period might reasonably decide it would be more important stay on the good side of voters across the political spectrum than to spark the passions of the Democratic base.”

    This is a completely reasonable explanation, Andy. The stakes are too high in November for Northam to take the unnecessary risk of alienating Trump voters. I’ve heard him speak and I know how he feels about Trump – but he doesn’t have rub that in voters faces every time he’s in front of a microphone. In fact, it would be really stupid for him to do that. Trump has already motivated Dems. In terms of risk and reward, Northam is doing the right thing.

    And to your second point, it really doesn’t matter to me where Northam was on his political/ideological path 13 years ago. I care about where he is now.

    Like you, I think both Tom and Ralph would make fine governors. And if we Dems don’t tear ourselves apart in the next few months, one of them will be.

  • Withheld Information

    This is a vile smear piece against an honourable man.

    Maybe Northam is simply a man of calm and rational temperament? Maybe he doesn’t want to scare people and whip up hysteria without cause? Maybe he doesn’t think it’s his place to to comment on national issues, but instead the issues facing Virginians.

    This is shameful work.

  • Mike Preas

    Northam is a politician through and through. Supports abortion as a convenience. He is an embarrassment to VMI. Glad I have moved to North Carolina

    • No, Northam supports a woman’s right to control her own body, in consultation with her doctor and whoever else she chooses to discuss things with. And he’s 100% right about this.

  • disqus_PoGGbWryAD

    I just posted my comment on Ralph Northam’s Face book page. I hope he understands how irate I am!

    Ralph Northam: Your vile, disgusting, unprofessional TV ads turned me off to your attempt to run this state. How dare you, continue to spew the vile, slanderous swill, name-calling of the POTUS? Like him or not, he is our President and deserves respect. The people spoke during the Presidential election and we are all sick to death of the Dumbocrat sleazy attempts to try to degrade good people in order to hide their weaknesses, their bullying attempts to put scare tactics into the voters? Don’t you have one redeeming value in your soul that you can contribute and show your accomplishments of the past, if any, instead of slinging mud at someone who isn’t even your opponent? You and your ilk disgust me and I’ll be sure to spread it around that you are the poorest candidate to represent this state. I don’t believe you and any future reparations you may try to make is too late. You’ve already exposed your real character.

  • Jennifer Litton Tidd

    A long article with no substance. Northam has a strong Democratic record for over 10 years now. Perriello voted for the Stupak amendment in 2009. His playing footsy with anti choice GOP is more recent. I’m voting for Northam because as a woman, I’m far more troubled by anti- choice votes than I am about a candidate’s campaign ads or formerly being GOP.

  • Tom Armstrong

    Just found this. I’ll bet you have the soft hands of a liberal. You have the soft mind of a liberal. You THINK that you are better than the Trump voters so you have a soft mental state. Wake up ! Your parents and school failed you. They told you , you were special, but you’re not. You are.Typical. No trophy for participation, just, typical. Please keep voting for guys that say I fight Trump. Keep wondering why you lost. Soft, no true work slug. Pathetic.

  • Lori Balbach

    I wish people would start being as loyal to this country as they are to a party 🙁 The Democratic party is rooted in racism. The last Dem i voted for was Jimmy Carter. While i think he’s a decent person i found him to be a weak leader.

    • Typo – should say “The Republican Party is rooted in racism” – since the 1960s, when the ‘Dixiecrats’ ditched the Democrats for the FORMER “party of Lincoln.”