Home Ralph Northam Ralph Northam Falsely Claims to Eric Holder That He Was Second Virginia...

Ralph Northam Falsely Claims to Eric Holder That He Was Second Virginia Elected Official, After Tim Kaine, to Endorse Barack Obama for President



In a sign of how potent a force Mr. Obama remains with African-Americans, and the degree to which he could have upended the race, Mr. Northam telephoned former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to ensure the former president’s neutrality, according to three Democrats briefed on the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Acknowledging the conversation, Mr. Northam said he told Mr. Holder, a close friend of the former president, that he had been the second elected official in Virginia (after then-Gov. Tim Kaine) to endorse Mr. Obama in the run-up to the 2008 primary.

“I just reminded Attorney General Holder that I had been very loyal, as has my wife, too, to President Obama,” Mr. Northam said. “That message got back to him.”

OK, that is false in just about every way.

  1. Northam wasn’t even elected until November 2007 and wasn’t sworn in as a State Senator (e.g., an “elected official in Virginia”) until early January 2008.
  2. A number of Virginia Democratic elected officials had endorsed Barack Obama by that point. For instance, see Rep. Scott endorses Barack Obama for president (December 21, 2007) and also this list of Obama endorsements (note how many elected Virginia Democrats had endorsed Barack Obama by the time Ralph Northam did on February 4, 2008). Also see Doug Wilder Endorses Barack Obama (January 5, 2008). Also see here for Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Delegate Dwight Jones endorsing Obama in May 2007.
  3. See below for a full list of Virginia elected endorsers of Barack Obama in 2008, and the date they endorsed him. Note where Ralph Northam ranks in there (hint: not second).
  • State Senator Janet D. Howell (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • State Senator Linda T. “Toddy” Puller (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • State Senator A. Donald McEachin (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • State Senator L. Louise Lucas (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • State Senator Mark Herring (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • State Senator Henry Marsh (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • State Senator Ralph Northam (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • State Senator John S. Edwards (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • State Senator Mamie Locke (D) (Feb. 4, 2008)
  • Delegate James M. Scott (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Vivian E. Watts (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Onzlee Ware (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Kristen J. Amundson (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Kenneth Cooper Alexander (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Robert H. Brink (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Dwight Clinton Jones (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate David L. Englin (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Mark D. Sickles (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Shannon R. Valentine (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Kenneth R. Plum (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Dave W. Marsden (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Kenneth R. Melvin (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Paul F. Nichols (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Delegate Robert D. Hull (D) (Jan. 31, 2008)
  • Former Governor L. Douglas Wilder (D)
  • Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D)
  • Governor Timothy M. Kaine (D)
  • County Board Member Jay Fisette (D)

Simply astounding that Ralph Northam would claim this…

  • Sharon Ponton

    He Didn’t think anyone would bother to check and he needs to try to stem the rising tide that is Tom Perriello. Thank you, Lowell, for doing the research.

    • I mean, I’ve been covering Virginia politics since 2005, so I knew immediately that couldn’t be right. Apparently, the NY Times reporter didn’t know or think to ask.

  • GailGD

    FFS Lowell…first, did you talk to the reporter to make sure the HE got it right? Second, did it not occur to you that Ralph could have endorsed Obama earlier, before he was sworn in, and while technically not an “elected” then, was an elected when the conversation occurred? It doesn’t even say when the call itself occurred, but I think it’s safe to assume that the call occurred sometime this year, when Northam was indeed an “elected.” But no matter…I doubt that Perriello is going to give you a job if he wins. You’ve become the Drudge of Virginia.

  • Esther Ferington

    Hmm. Just as a reminder, the 2008 Obama campaign did not play checkers, or chess, but three-dimensional chess (or maybe four-dimensional!).

    As you’ll recall, they would collect up tons of endorsements and release a batch of them strategically, and not necessarily in the order received, often days, weeks, or maybe months later. Sometimes a very special person (eg, Caroline Kennedy, or in this case, Tim Kaine, Governor Wilder) would be announced on their own, or by that person instead of the campaign. But for the lesser fry, the endorsements came out in these subsequent batches. It is very obvious from your list that that is what happened on January 31 and February 4.

    I see a story on CNN.com from January 31, 2008, that reads “Obama Steps Up Virginia Primary Efforts” (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/01/31/obama-steps-up-virginia-primary-efforts/comment-page-1/ ) which says:

    “The Obama campaign sees Virginia as fertile ground, with endorsements from leaders like Kaine, Rep. Bobby Scott, Rep. Rick Boucher. They also have the backing of former Gov. Doug Wilder, now the mayor of Richmond, who remains an influential figure among Democrats and African-Americans in the state. The campaign also announced the backing of 17 members of the House of Delegates on Thursday.”

    From your story, Northam was not a member of the House of Delegates, as he was a Senator, so I imagine that he wouldn’t have been announced in that group, whenever he privately gave the Obama campaign his endorsement.

    The other early batch of endorsements, including Northam’s according to your list, came out on February 4 (the day before Super Tuesday, which was February 5). I assume the Obama campaign’s February 4 release was mostly to be part of the big nationwide push toward that year’s giant Super Tuesday and also to further set up the subsequent “Potomac Primary” in Virginia, Maryland, and DC.

    I couldn’t easily find a story about that February 4 set of endorsements, so I don’t have more details or a link for that one. As a side note, I did come across this amusing “setting expectations low” article from February 7, “Obama team lowers expectations for the Potomac Primary” (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/02/07/obama-team-lowers-expectations-for-potomac-primary/).

    So, I don’t know when Northam communicated with the Obama campaign, and you may well be right that he wasn’t the second person (or you may be wrong); if he was still very early to endorse, I’d say that was okay. In any case, the list above doesn’t tell us one way or the other, because of the way the Obama campaign gathered such endorsements and doled them out later. I think it would be better not to use the word “false” in the headline, if that’s based on that list.

    Of course, the same New York Times article also states that Obama has made a decision not to endorse in any primary, which takes some of the air out of this issue. “While he stands by his praise of the former lawmaker from a 2010 rally, video that Mr. Perriello has made into an ad, Mr. Obama does not want to create a precedent of engaging in primaries and has denied Mr. Perriello a coveted endorsement.”