Home Virginia Politics Is Tom Perriello Being “groomed for statewide office” by the Obama camp?

Is Tom Perriello Being “groomed for statewide office” by the Obama camp?


A post by Rick Sincere pointed out something interesting that got me thinking. The post is about President Obama’s campaign appearance in Charlottesville yesterday. On stage with Obama was Tim Kaine, who’s obviously a close political ally and is running for U.S. Senate (so that one makes complete sense. The other politician on stage with Obama was former Congressman (from the 5th CD) Tom Perriello. That one’s more intriguing, or at least it is to Rick Sincere.

It’s also possible that the Obama administration wants to boost Perriello’s career…

I think that Perriello is being groomed for statewide office, perhaps as early as 2013. He’s a very attractive candidate in many ways: young, intelligent, talented, with a law degree and foreign-policy experience in war zones like Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. Regardless of what one thinks of his policy positions – and his votes for Obamacare and cap-and-trade likely doomed his re-election chances in 2010 – he would be a strong contender for lieutenant governor or attorney general next year, and for governor in 2017 or later. (Gen-Xer Perriello turns 40 years old in 2014.)

I suspect Perriello, as a lawyer, will first run for Attorney General. That job is being vacated by Ken Cuccinelli, who is seeking the GOP’s gubernatorial nomination, and the Democratic nomination may be Perriello’s to claim (although Delegate Mark Herring has also indicated interest in the post). And in Virginia, state Attorney General is virtually always a stepping-stone to running for Governor.

This speculation may, of course, be completely off base. But I doubt it. Just yesterday, the Times-Dispatch posted this article, in which Perriello points out that he’s “young, so [he’s] not making a definitive statement” about when and what he’ll run for next.

Also, if I know Tom at all – and I feel like I’ve gotten to know him pretty well the past 5 years – I definitely do NOT think that the political bug has been purged from his system. And for good reason: this guy’s one of the most brilliant, articulate, and well-grounded/head-screwed-on-straight politicians out there (and no, that wasn’t meant as a backhanded compliment). 😉 (Also, with regard to the political bug, note that, despite his “day job” at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Tom’s been traveling like a banshee all over the state for Democrats, meeting with various constituent groups, opening offices, speaking in support of Tim Kaine and Barack Obama, fundraising, etc.)

In a way, it’s strange speculating like this about Tom Perriello, as he’s not a typical politician in many ways. For instance, unlike the Mark Warners of the world – who apparently don’t believe in much of anything, other than their own ambition – I firmly believe that Perriello, while of course being ambitious (what super-talented person isn’t at least somewhat ambitious?), is truly a “conviction politician,” someone who is driven to by his strong progressive faith tradition. This is a tradition that’s an old (I’d argue that it started with Jesus himself) and powerful one. It’s the tradition that says we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers; that our duty is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger into our land, heal the world. That’s the faith tradition I was raised in (as a Jew), and that’s the faith tradition I believe Tom Perriello is deeply rooted in as well (as a Roman Catholic).

Still, like the rest of us, Tom lives in the real world, and is a real politician, so that brings us to real-world political considerations and speculation. Such as: the question Rick Sincere raised, whether Tom Perriello is being groomed by Camp Obama for future office, and if so, for which office and when?

In addition to the possibilities Rick Sincere raises, such as a run for AG in 2013 (note to Rick: Mark Herring’s a Senator not a Delegate, and Mike Signer’s running as well; Ward Armstrong’s name keeps getting floated around as well), here are several others I’ve thought of and/or heard bandied about.

1. He’s being groomed not to run in 2013, but potentially to be appointed by Mark Warner to Warner’s vacated Senate seat. Why would Warner’s seat be vacated, you ask? In this scenario, it would be after Warner runs for governor in 2013 and crushes Ken Cuccinelli, then is sworn in once again as “his excellency” in January 2013. The only problem with this scenario is that I’ve also heard, pretty convincingly, that Warner’s definitely NOT running for governor in 2013, which means that Terry McAuliffe WILL be the Democratic nominee, barring some really weird development.

2. He’s being positioned to run for U.S. Senate in 2014, when Mark Warner’s first term expires. Of course, this would assume that Warner vacates the seat. Why would Warner do that? Perhaps to run for president in 2016, which lots of people assume Warner wants to do?

3. Perriello could certainly wait until 2017 to run for AG (or governor), given that – as he himself points out – he’s young. That would certainly be consistent with him being “groomed,” although 2017 is pretty far into the future, and I’m not sure why running around Virginia in 2012 would particularly help Tom 5 years from now.

4. One final thought: perhaps Perriello would be up for a top Obama administration post next year? Although for that, I’m not sure why he needs to be dashing around Virginia this year, other than the highly important reason of helping elect Obama and Kaine. What I guess I don’t understand, though, is why Tom – as much as I love the guy! – would be considered a political asset by the Obama (or Kaine) campaigns outside the 5th CD, as his name ID is very low in most parts of Virginia, according to all the polling I’ve seen.

Anyway, that’s enough idle speculation for one day. Maybe all this is total nonsense. Maybe we )(the author and the readers) all really need to get lives. 😉 Or maybe, some of us are just weird political junkie types and can’t help ourselves from playing “Fantasy Virginia Politics?” How about you, any interest in playing along?


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