by Tim Chapman of Vienna, Virginia
This week, the Washington Post endorsed Ralph Northam over Tom Perriello for Governor of Virginia. Once again, the Washington Post has run to the middle, backing a moderate choice they inexplicably believe can appeal to the most voters in a general election. Only an establishment candidate, they argue, can keep Democrats in the governor’s mansion. I believe this position is misplaced. Facing Republican control of the state legislature, the editorial board said Northam would be the most likely “to nudge GOP majorities in his direction” as governor. Nudge. Nudge? Does anyone in the Commonwealth, or the world for that matter, believe that a “nudge” is what our State or Country needs? As a former Republican, who will no longer allow himself to be blinded by the blanket of hypocrisy the GOP offers, I can tell you they’re wrong — and I’ll be casting my vote for Tom Perriello.
It has always amazed me how people inside the Beltway, especially in the elite perches of the Washington Post building, continue to believe that they know what appeals to America, let alone the Commonwealth. They believe voters in rural counties hate big spending programs. But the reality is: we all participate in big spending programs; is there a home owner out there who has ever turned down the Mortgage Interest Deduction? Of course not. The question is not if we spend, but rather where we spend. Our state needs a Governor who will marshal those funds for effective use, such as investing in the renovation of our dilapidated middle class. We want, and desperately need, bold solutions to our problems, and we want them paid for. Take for example, the proposal by Perriello to extend free community college to all Virginia residents, an idea which is far past its time. If the prerequisite to providing free community college to all Virginia students is a fractional tax increase for millionaires, we should all view this as an investment into the Commonwealth’s most precious resource: our future.
What Tom Perriello understands, and the Washington Post editorial board doesn’t, is that deals cut in Richmond’s back rooms with “nudges” will not solve problems, they create them- evidenced by the current occupant of the White House. Perhaps the Washington Post Editorial Board should read the content of its own paper. Personally, I know of no one who can credibly state that a “…nudge” will garner an effective response from Republicans. Democrats can no longer bring a knife to a gun fight. We need bold ideas and actions. We need to bring the fight to those who wish to hold the Commonwealth back. Perriello understands this, and is prepared for that fight. Tom understands that legislators compromise only when they are forced to by political pressure back home.
Perriello’s energy and willingness to bring the fight to individual legislators’ districts is proven by his more than 20,000 miles of campaign travels across Virginia. He understands most Virginians don’t care whether their next governor comes from the left or right, but whether he helps them move up or down. Perriello has fiercely promoted economics which support and grow the middle class while raising wages. This message has sparked something in the electorate. According to the latest polls, he is winning rural Virginia by massive margins in this primary. He is harnessing support from libertarians, conservatives, and progressive environmentalists. His opposition to fracked gas pipelines in Virginia should not be viewed through a political lens. It should be viewed through a glass of clean water. We can no longer ignore or politicize commonsense issues such as clean water, clean air, and renewable energy. Perriello understands this.
Tom is stitching together a new coalition, including the Reagan Democrats, Progressive Conservatives, urban and rural Democrats and now even a few Trump Republicans. Only Perriello can bring these voters together.
It is Perriello’s bold ideas and passion for restoring the middle class that unequivocally makes him best candidate to beat Ed Gillespie. Contemplate for a moment a Gillespie win. Do we really want to hand the keys to the Commonwealth to Trump? I do not believe that Northam, who by all measures is a good and decent man, and who should be honored for his service to Virginia, provides us with the best chance at beating Gillespie. The polling already shows it; Perriello is thrashing Gillespie by double-digits in a prospective November matchup. Gillespie’s deep pockets and far-reaching connections make him a formidable candidate.
This opportunity cannot be lost. Gillespie almost won Mark Warner’s Senate seat in 2014–losing by less than a point and nearly forcing the race to a recount. To defeat him, we need as clear a contrast as possible — and that won’t come from Ralph Northam, another soft-spoken moderate corporate candidate who voted twice for George W. Bush, the same president who hired Gillespie to work for him in the White House. Perriello’s pragmatic approach offers the strongest contrast to beat Gillespie in the general election, then go on to govern with a new coalition.
Perriello has built the broadest Virginia coalition in decades– in our cities, rural areas, and in coal country; older and younger voters throughout the state. These voters often show up once every four years and then disappear– but they will break that pattern to vote for Perriello. More than twice as many Democrats voted in New Jersey’s recent gubernatorial primary than in 2013. Virginia is expected to see an even larger turnout Tuesday, and again in November. In fact, it’s Perriello, not Northam, that has so many of my Republican friends scared about November.
Additionally, only Perriello can excite voters enough to take back the General Assembly for Democrats. The grassroots energy he is harnessing in Virginia is also what has led to Democrats fielding challengers in all 17 Republican districts that went for Clinton. Perriello captures voters’ frustrations with Trump and disaffections with the system better than any candidate, bringing the energy and leadership needed for Democrats to score victories across the ballot and across the state.
Vote this Tuesday, and when you do, vote for Tom Perriello- the candidate who will move Virginia forward.