Home 2017 Races When NARAL Comes Knocking on the Door…

When NARAL Comes Knocking on the Door…


That this is a hot-and-heavy Democratic gubernatorial primary may not have been visible at McLean Day, but it is showing up at doorsteps around the Commonwealth. That includes my conversation with a young woman wearing a VA NARAL Pro-Choice shirt, going door-to-door the day after McLean Day.

While not explicitly stating “VOTE RALPH NORTHAM!!!,” this door-knocker laid out a (seemingly) strong case about how Tom Perriello is not really pro-choice (discussing the Stupak Amendment vote) and how Ralph Northam is a highly reliable progressive with a solid history of supporting women’s health and women’s issues.

After she had laid out the case, I thanked her for being engaged and spending her Sunday going door-to-door. I emphasized that I supported abortion rights (legal, safe, reasonable in access, affordable …though, honestly, it has been some years since I was a NARAL member). I told her that, however, I saw a mix of issues at play in the Governor’s race. I highlighted that I understood why Virginia NARAL, with its established working relationship with Northam, would support him, but wondered about the strong (not the word I used then, but how about “strident?”) opposition to Perriello, when he is so clearly on the right side of the issue in so many ways.

I had some questions for her:

Again, I can understand why those who have worked well with a candidate — successfully, professionally, etc — would favor the person “they know.”  NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia has — as I understand it — found Ralph Northam to be an informed, strong, and engaged partner (advocate?).  That this leads to supporting Northam makes sense. I get it.  But, the extent of denigrating and demonizing Perriello, who is light years apart from/better than the GOP and has a strong history — aside from Stupak (and has explained/discussed Stupak a myriad of times) — I really don’t get … it doesn’t make sense.

To take this to ‘my’ arena of focus, energy/climate change (and how these arenas interrelate with/impact society, health, economy, prosperity, social justice, …) for a moment: it is quite clear that Tom Perriello is stronger (more knowledgeable, more passionate, more …) in these areas than Ralph Northam.  It is also quite clear that both are “in realm of reality re  [and] light years better [in comparison with] // denial.”

Truth be told, both Northam and Perriello have strengths and weaknesses. Both have “pasts” worth consideration and discussion, for which voters can have (legitimate) questions and should expect (legitimate/substantive) engagement from the candidates.  When it comes to pro-choice voters: Perriello voted for Stupak and Northam voted for George W. Bush and other Republicans.  They both, as well, have done things in their careers in support of a women’s right to health care (not just, but certainly, choice). And, whichever one is the Democratic nominee for governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia come November 2017, that person will be light years apart (day in the face of night) from their GOP opponent’s desire to make The Handmaiden’s Tale a reality for the Commonwealth’s female citizens.


  • Truth in advertising, I have laid out my reasons for supporting Perriello in Choosing Tom …
  • The following is a ‘twitter’ engagement from earlier this year as to one (as I put it “powerful/interesting”) lay-down on abortion rights in the Democratic Governor’s primary.  Within the referenced article was the comment that “As far as reproductive rights are concerned, Northam couldn’t be more different than Perriello”. My response to that notion: “”Couldn’t be more different” would be / / etc, who want criminalized, attack women’s rights.”


  • wizinit

    The NARAL antiPerrielo campaign was on full display at the Gubernatorial Forum in Arlington earlier this month. Four young women in matching tee shirts jumped to the front of the line to launch a premeditated assault armed with scripted questions (read off their cell phone screens) intended to make the candidate look bad. Periello handled the situation with grace and aplomb, and the result was frankly an embarrassment for NARAL. Do these women really believe that Periello is a threat to women’s right to choose? It is a shame that in Virginia Democrats are better organized to fight other Democrats than to defeat Republicans.

    • A_Siegel

      1. To repeat, great that people are engaged and involved.
      2. To repeat, I can understand why NARAL would support Northam over Perriello.
      3. Okay, it seems, for people to have ‘pre-scripted questions’ rather than rambling, discursive rants going down a rat hole of obscure issue that eat up time and don’t allow candidates real basis for engagement.
      4. My impression is that Perriello has engaged — whether re NARAL or NRA or … — thoughtfully and respectfully … or, as you put it, “with grace and aplomb”.
      5. In agreement with you, as per my post, that the (seeming) demonization is over the top.
      6. Let’s hope that they go into the general election with 10x the passion of the primary, since the difference between the D and R candidates will be far starker, with far greater stakes than the differences (to whatever extent they really are there) between Perriello and Northam (on Choice along with a myriad of other issues, from redistricting to education to energy/climate to …).

  • Andrea

    I was also at the Arlington forum. When Perriello got a question about how his offshore drilling bill fit within his pro-environment platform, he said it was a bad vote and laughed it off. So did the audience. I don’t think candidates should be able to laugh off votes and don’t understand why people are so mad that people are asking questions. Northam also got heavily asked about Dominion, why can’t Perriello get asked about abortion?

    • A_Siegel

      1. Andrea, response should have been to wizinit’s comment, rather than my post. As per my response, above, see [3], I believe that ‘questions’ (pre-scripted or otherwise) are absolutely fair.
      2. Offshore drilling is a very legit question to Perriello — as i sought to lay out in my post, there are issues in both men’s history that merit examination/discussion.
      3. For others, here is (one of) Andrea’s passionate/informed discussions of why she supports Ralph, with her perspective as one who has been fighting battles in Richmond: https://medium.com/@nicolegrim/national-democrats-trust-the-women-on-the-ground-3c2b1ba16f97

    • JodyM

      I was also at this event and Tom answered the offshore drilling question. It was asked by one of the six (possibly seven) NARAL volunteers who asked Tom questions. You can watch it at the link below. The question is asked when there is about 44:50 minutes left in the forum.

      Northam also supported offshore drilling at one point. He changed his
      position. The Department of Defense came out strongly against offshore
      drilling and Northam’s district included the Norfolk Navy Base and
      shipyards. It would have been political suicide if he hadn’t. In
      addition, Obama, Kaine, Warner, McAuliffe, and even Clinton all
      supported offshore drilling at one time.


  • Suzie

    Those young women led an “assault” on Perriello??? Really?? If this candidate can’t take questions from constituents in matching t-shirts then how is he going to run the state of Virginia? I have witnessed these young women in matching t-shirts who you claim is “assaulting” Perriello, lol, and all they’re doing is asking this candidate a fair question based on his voting record, seems fair. Now if they were asking about his private life, then that maybe an “assault” but asking questions about his voting record as a Congressman…that’s fair game. I plan to ask him at his next event why he took $6,000 from the NRA in campaign contributions in 2010 and his “A” from them that same year. So if you think these young women in matching t-shirts are “assaulting” him with a few questions about abortion, Oh, then I’m about to “slay” him in this next forum, lol.

    • A_Siegel

      Please pay attention to how you comment, what you are discussing. You have made theis a reply to the post — which has zero re the Arlington event and zero about “assaulting” …

      • Suzie

        You commented and agreed with the commentator on a post above that used the word “assaulting” which is a ridiculous characterization of what these young women are doing. Not only are some of these young women are activists but some have been really assaulted and comment was insensitive. So maybe you need to watch what you agree with. Not only is this article absolutely absurd and condensing to women because you referred to women as girls but you’re attacking women for making a stance and choosing to be involve with the political process….you let me guess you’re a “progressive”…right? This whole website is a joke!

        • A_Siegel

          What … the blank … …?

          1. As to “condesing to women”, where is there an example in this where I “referred to women as girls”. (Hint … won’t find one … only use of “girls” prior to my comment responding to you in the post and all the comments is in the comment that you just made.)

          2. As to ‘attacking women for … choosing to be involve with the political process’, hmmm … from the post: “I thanked her for being engaged and spending her Sunday going door-to-door.” What a vicious attack.

          3. You totally mischaracterize re my responding and engaging above — implying that I endorsed / engaged / commented re “assault” description. Anyone want to, read what I wrote (:http://bluevirginia.us/2017/05/naral-comes-knocking-door#comment-3322462273 … in there, as first point & in line with point [2] in this comment “To repeat, great that people are engaged and involved.”). Want to make the (legitimate) point about being more careful re using the word “assault”, make it to the person who used the word and don’t stretch out to attack people who didn’t.

    • Anonymous Is A Woman

      At least, Tom tries to answer questions. Ralph blows off the ones he dislikes. Nobody in his campaign has ever addressed why he voted against a state workers comp bill for shipyard workers. He was the only Democrat to vote with all Republicans. That was in 2012. But I guess being Northam means never having to say sorry. Unlike Tom who at least acknowledges bad votes and does apologize extensively.

  • Hilary Gibson

    The canvasser had a good reason for not knowing Tom Perriello “has 100% rating from NARAL”. He doesn’t!

    He got a 100% score on a candidate questionnaire which is NOT the same thing as a 100% rating. NARAL’s rating (aka vote scorecard) is based on one’s actions such as votes while serving in elected office (psst not on votes as a private citizen), a candidate questionnaire is based on wait for it… filling out a questionnaire.

    Tom has enough going for him… why the need to spread something that isn’t true? Ian Sams now says Perriello has 100% NARAL questionnaire score not a 100% NARAL rating.


    • FYI, Tom Perriello received a 100% rating from NARAL in 2010, his last year in Congress. He also received very low ratings from anti-choice gropus (e.g., 16% from the National Right to Life Committee).


      • Suzie

        @Iowkell You want to know what else he received in 2010 $6,000 from the NRA in campaign contributions and an A rating.

        • Right, and today he has an “F” rating from a group he rightly calls a “nutjob, extremist organization.”

          • Suzie

            Yeah, that’s after he did their dirty work and took their money though…so….funny how politicians will say anything even lie to get a job, lol

          • Charming.

          • Anonymous Is A Woman

            And you know who else had an A rating from NRA? Mark Warner at one time. He also used to give out bumper stickers that said, “Sportsmen for Warner” to make sure people knew it too. I had one of those, but I never displayed it anywhere.

            Today, Senator Warner is in the forefront of the fight against NRA, as is Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello. People change. ALL people who have a brain change when the situation changes.

          • I bet that a lot of people bashing Tom for his past “A” rating from the NRA also are big Mark Warner fans.

          • Anonymous Is A Woman

            I know that is probably true.

      • Hilary Gibson

        So your contention is Tarina Keene is lying?

        • Your contention is that the 100% NARAL rating in 2010, as listed by Project Vote Smart, is incorrect?

          • Hilary Gibson

            Considering a Google search shows NARAL did not assign numerical ratings in 2010 and Tarina Keene says he never received 100%, I’m going to go with Yes.

          • Hilary Gibson

            2009 rating: 50%
            2010 rating: N/A

          • Anonymous Is A Woman

            So you want it two ways: heads you win, tails I lose. The rating from 2010 is accurate but from 2010 is not. Or has been changed. Dishonest! BTW, I saw that rating many times in the course of the primary campaign. I used it as a link too. So, if it’s been changed, it is very much after the fact. So, yeah, I’ll call it a lie.

          • Exactly. Just like Ralph’s votes for George W. Bush (or presumably for Jerry Kilgore over Tim Kaine in 2005 and George Allen over Jim Webb in 2006) do NOT matter, but Tom’s vote for Stupak TOTALLY matters. Funny how this works…”heads you win, tails I lose” is exactly right.

          • Anonymous Is A Woman

            BTW, I meant rating from 2009 is accurate, but from 2010 suddenly isn’t. Moving the bar is not honest.

          • Hilary Gibson

            Again I suggest going to NARAL’s website if you want accurate NARAL ratings instead of trusting some unofficial site.

          • Hilary Gibson

            Don’t blame me because some random aggregation is inaccurate. I have nothing to do Vote Smart or Ralph Northam’s or Tom Perriello’s campaign. I’m just a person on the internet who looked up primary data instead of relying on secondary data.

    • A_Siegel

      When I go to try to find out politician rankings (as for example, done re Comstock here: http://bluevirginia.us/2016/10/barbara-comstock-right-alabama-wrong-virginia), for me — and many others — Vote Smart is the (or, at minimum, a) ‘go to place’. Here is the 2010 “Vote Smart” re NARAL Pro-Choice America “Positions” https://votesmart.org/interest-group/1016/rating/5741#.WScEvRPyvUo Perriello is listed at 100%. If you go to the Perriello page: https://votesmart.org/candidate/evaluations/109344/tom-perriello#.WScFTRPyvUp it shows the 2010 rating as 100% and the 2009 as 50%. Honestly, I had meant/thought to use that in the link in the post.

      Let’s be clear, by the way, the post doesn’t say that “Perriello has a 100% rating from NARAL” but made point that 2010 score was 100% (after, not stated there, but w/Stupak implied, a 50% in 2009).

      Fine, change the words to “had a 100% in 2010, after a 50% in 2009, in NARAL Pro-Choice America’s positions’ ratings’ and the same fundamental point is there.

      While I have laid out my reasons for supporting Perriello, I did not and do not support his Stupak vote & effort related to ACA. As a supporter of Northam, are you at all troubled by his history of voting (for decades?) for people who worked with fervor to undermine women’s right to make health decisions about their own bodies?

      • Hilary Gibson

        But his 2010 rating was N/A (see below) not 100% though so you’re spreading a falsehood not intentionally of course but still not truthful.

        There was one vote in 2010- the reconciliation vote re: Stupak and Perriello did vote N that time so good for him. Then again he spent campaign season 2010 saying he was anti-abortion.


        Editor’s note: During the years NARAL
        Pro-Choice America has published a congressional
        voting record, occasionally the House
        or Senate has taken only one vote on a reproductive-rights
        issue during the session. In these
        instances, NARAL’s traditional method of
        calculating lawmakers’ records – by percentage,
        representing the sum of all the year’s votes
        – does not accurately reflect members’ positions
        on reproductive rights. 2010 is a case in point,
        with only one vote on reproductive rights in
        each chamber. In order to address this circumstance,
        and in keeping with past practice, we
        have indicated each member’s vote with a “Y”
        or “N” rather than a numerical percentage.

        • A_Siegel

          1. To reinforce, for the Xth time, as per the diary — I do understand why NARAL would support Ralph over Tom.

          2. NARAL ratings then seem pretty challenging to use — by anyone. Okay, it was Vote Smart that flips the Y/N of the 2010 report into 100%/0%. The 2009 ratings were based on just three votes … with just three, I’m trying to figure out how one gets a ‘50%’ rating. (If I understand correctly, NARAL rated Perriello as having voted ‘the right way’ twice and wrong once … wouldn’t that make 66%?)

          • Anonymous Is A Woman

            Good point, A. Siegel.

        • Anonymous Is A Woman

          I went back and Vote Smart has Tom’s rating for 2010 as 100%. I understand what you are saying. But did anybody ever contact them about that and ask for a correction? Do they make corrections?

          Seriously, if it is wrong, it is misleading a lot of voters and people who use Vote Smart as a go-to. So, I would love to know if any attempt to correct them was made and what the response from them was?

          • Hilary Gibson

            I don’t use Vote Smart and I’m not responsible for people who do. With Google, there’s no reason not to go to the primary source.

      • Hilary Gibson

        To your other point of course I don’t like the W votes but I think his abortion rights record in public service is better than Tom’s. And what if hypothetically Ralph wins the primary? You’re going to vote for him right? So obviously the W votes aren’t a deal breaker for you why should they be for anyone else?

        • A_Siegel

          And, ‘what if hypothetically Tom wins the primary? You’re going to vote for him right?”

          Look, I made quite clear that I will strive to get the D nominee as the next Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia (see http://getenergysmartnow.com/2017/04/14/choosing-tom/ for a blunt statement in this regard) and have sought to find reasons to praise Ralph even as supporting Tom. What I have not seen is a similar sentiment coming from Northam supporters …

          And, as per the core point of this diary, my (and, well, far from just my) impression is that ‘burn the house down’ denigration is primarily one-sided in this primary and, imo, will be damaging to D prospects — whichever candidate is the nominee. If Ralph wins, we want Perriello supporters energetically and enthusiastically working to get him elect … and vice versa.

          • Hilary Gibson

            You: I have sought to find reasons to praise Ralph

            Me: Tom has a lot going for him no need claim false rating.
            Also me: I think Ralph’s abortion rights record is stronger.

            You: OMG Ralph supporter, stop denigrating Tom!!!

          • A_Siegel

            WTF? Seriously … “OMG” … ???


            Btw, I will take one step back … I meant in terms of ‘supporters’ endorsement statements’ and did not mean that as ‘attack on you’.