From Tom Perriello’s town hall meeting in Fairfax County this afternoon (see video below), I think that this question cuts to the heart of the decision Virginia Democrats need to make on June 13, and also what a lot of Virginia Democrats are asking themselves right now.
We have two really fine human beings running for this office. Can you summarize for me where you’re different from Ralph or where Ralph Northam is different from you, and why you think you can win. Because what I want is someone who can win [APPLAUSE]...You are so impressive, I hate to say this to you but I could be happy voting for either of you. So I need to know the difference; could you help me with that?
To summarize Tom’s answer: 1) on electability, he’s proven he can win/outperform the “Democratic brand” in a red part of Virginia (the 5th CD); 2) he did so not by being “basically a moderate Republican,” as many Democratic consultants would have recommended, but by being a “fiery progressive” and a “fighter” willing to “stand up to special interest groups and concentrated power and give everyday folks a chance”; 3) this year is an enormous opportunity for Democrats, but “we cannot assume that simply showing up with a D after our names is going to do it”; 4) “this is a big difference between me and Ralph…this is someone who did admit in the New York Times voting for George W. Bush twice,” while he was “working 20 hours a day fighting the Bush agenda”; 5) we need to run a campaign which has the “best of both worlds” of Bernie/Hillary, inside-the-party/outside progressive groups; and 6) “Virginia doesn’t elected Lt. Governors to governor…there’s a reason for that…it just doesn’t tend to be a very good launching point for a successful election…what people are looking for is someone who can lead” (with the exception of Tim Kaine in 2005).
So that’s Tom Perriello’s core argument regarding who he believes is the most electable Democrat for governor of Virginia in 2017. I’m sure Ralph Northam would argue that he’s won statewide and has won in a red part of Virginia as well. The big question is, which candidate’s argument(s) will convince Democratic primary voters by the time June 13 rolls around. Stay tuned…