Earlier this afternoon, Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidates Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam spoke to a packed house of Arlington Dems at Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon. Also present at the event, although not speaking, were Democratic Lt. Governor candidates Justin Fairfax, Susan Platt and Gene Rossi. It was good chatting briefly with each of them; hope to catch up more soon! Now, back to Perriello and Northam, who each spoke for 10+ minutes, then took two questions each from the audience. Perriello went first, so I’ll post his video first (along with a few comments by your faithful blogger – lol) followed by Northam’s. At the end, check out video of Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) Chair Kip Malinosky as he fired up the crowd about his three-pronged approach to fighting back against Trump.
Key points in Perriello’s speech include: 1) this year’s election is “an opportunity to actually do something much bigger than elect the next Democratic governor…this year is our opportunity to redefine the demographics of Virginia politics for an entire generation”; 2) “it’s movements that change our sense of what’s possible, and particularly when those movements are led by women”; 3) there was “good news and bad news” from yesterday’s Women’s March – the good news is that “we are the majority” and “how much we’ve matured in terms of intersectionality” of different issues that used to be “stovepiped,” the bad news is that almost nobody Perriello met on the Mall yesterday knew that there was a Virginia governor’s race taking place in 2017; 4) “if we can tap into that progressive coalition” we saw yesterday, “we don’t just win this race, we win this race in a walk” and help “[refedine] the politics of the state”; 5) “one thing we’re going to do in this campaign is we’re going to show up everywhere…we’re not going to write off anyone”; 6) “I cannot wait to take on Ed Gillespie…Gillespie is everything the Republican base hates about the Republican Party”; 7) “we have to stand for real economic fairness”; 8) “what the…march showed yesterday…was we don’t win these races by running to the middle or by watering down our principles, we win these elections by showing that progressive values are Virginia values”; 9) we have to give “Obama coalition” voters a reason to show up when Obama’s name isn’t on the ballot; 10) “we need to figure out an inclusive economic growth that protects our climate, that protects the middle class, that protects communities of color, and…that we’re helping people move up and not down the ladder”; 11) as governor, he will continue veto horrible legislation coming out of the Virginia General Assembly, “but we want to move from defense to offense, and we do that by transforming who shows up.”
Next, Perriello responds to a question about how Dems can appeal to rural voters (e.g., who live along I-81 from Winchester to Bristol) by saying we need to “show up” and “stand for things they care about and show that we mean it” (e.g., energy independence, decent wages, paid family medical leave). Perriello also responded to a question about accessibility to polling locations by disabled people, saying that we absolutely need to make voting easily accessible to disabled people by using mail-in voting, “you should have lots of time to vote, you should be able to vote technologically in a way that someone with a disability doesn’t have to get in the car and go to the polls in the first place.” He added that we need to “think bigger about redefining how we go to the polls; we’re still basically in 2017 going to polls the same way we did in the 18th century – this is ridiculous, we should be aspiring to 100% voter participation in the cradle of American democracy.” Perriello concluded that if we get rid of gerrymandering and have a “level playing field,” and “Democrats will win these elections bar none and have a majority in the legislature.”
A fired-up, dressed-for-church Ralph Northam talked about his experience marching yesterday in Washington, DC – “it was a picture of America yesterday and it was a message to our new president that we’re not going to accept his campaign of hatred, of bigotry, of discrimination, of misinformation – that is not the country I’m proud of…none of us should accept that that’s the normal.” Northam hit back against Ed Gillespie (without mentioning him by name) and his ridiculous attacks on Virginia’s economy and how they’re “going to come in and save the world,” said he’s “proud to be a Democrat” focused on “economic opportunity for all Virginians no matter who you are, no matter where you are,” also about the economic progress made during the McAuliffe administration. Northam said we need to continue to be an open, welcoming, inclusive state so we don’t become like North Carolina, with its anti-LGBT legislation. Northam talked about being a veteran and how that helped shape his views on gun violence, declaring that “we do not as a society…as a Commonwealth need assault weapons on our streets.” He also talked about using smart gun technology to save lives. On the environment, Northam said he’s “literally watched the demise of the Cheseapeake Bay over my 50 years; I understand…global warming, I’m a scientist, I know what it does…our future is NOT in offshore drilling.” Northam declared, “I have always and I will continue to always be opposed to offshore drilling; we need to promote…wind, solar, not more fossil fuels.” Northam emphasized the importance of education, including pre-K education. On healthcare, Northam expressed his strong support for the Affordable Care Act – “I can tell you, as a doctor, the Affordable Care Act is working” – and more broadly that all Virginians have access to quality, affordable care. Northam quipped that “the doctor is in.” Finally, Northam vowed to continue to be a “wall” against attempts by Republicans to roll back women’s reproductive choice, telling Republicans to “stay out of a woman’s life and stay out of my doctor’s office!”
Northam took a question from Pablo, who said he’s been HIV positive since age 17, about sexual health and sex education. Northam said he couldn’t agree more that we need family life education (“teaches about the birds and the bees”) to be mandatory in public schools. Northam then took a (verbal) detour to rural Virginia, said he can “speak their language,” talked about the importance of broadband internet and universal cell phone coverage in rural areas. Northam then took a question on millennials getting out to vote. Northam talked about his kids, said he plans to run a grassroots campaign, “listening tours,” will “reach out to our colleges, our universities…even our high schools, and sit down with people and say this is your future, where do you want to take it, how can we help you, let’s get involved, let’s get enthusiastic…and cast our ballots.” Finally, Northam talked about the crucial importance of the 2017 governor’s election for 2021 redistricting. “If we have a Republican in the Governor’s office, we will literally go back 10+ years; we cannot let that happen, we have to keep a Democrat in the Governor’s office.”
Finally, ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky declared that Donald Trump’s already shown who he is, that “we know what we’re up against, the question is what are we going to do about it.” According to Kip, we need to focus on “education, advocacy and elections.” On the latter point, Kip added that “we are going to be focusing on elections anywhere we can.” He concluded that in 2009, only 43% of Arlingtonians voted. That increased to 49% in 2013. “This year, let’s get a majority, let’s get a super majority, let’s get 55% of Arlingtonians voting…” and then call in to Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax Counties to help take back the Virginia House of Delegates as well.