by Atif Qarni
At the upcoming Prince William Democratic committee meeting, I will be speaking on behalf of Dr. Northam as his surrogate.
Both Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello have a good shot at being our next governor. I met with both face to face to get to know them. Tom was very kind to take time to do a round table with my teacher friends and I. Ralph visited my mosque and spent time with us in a round table. In both instances, I had a chance to observe both candidates. I believe both are genuine.
I have friends on both sides who strongly believe in the two candidates. The last few weeks, I have received several phone calls from both sides to come out in support of their candidate. This is because Prince William County is one of the key regions, and currently I happen to be involved in several organized efforts, which has democrats highly engaged.
I have been very vocal about the internal issues with our party. I am against folks trying to clear the field for a candidate and anointing a person, without giving others an opportunity. Initially for that reason, I was not going to get involved in this primary. However, after I met with Ralph, my mind changed. There is something very special about him, which is not measurable by a poll.
Currently there is a lot of noise in politics. Some folks say that Ralph is boring and soft-spoken and that can hurt Democrats. I disagree. From my observation, Ralph is a calming force. I believe his humility and authenticity are valuable traits. These traits are a very nice contrast to flashy politicians like Ed Gillespie who will be the likely Republican nominee.
During last year’s primary, I supported Bernie Sanders. Several Clinton folks criticized Sanders supporters and vice-versa. There is a lot of crossover of supporters in this primary. We have seen early signs of attacks from supporters. After, last year’s primary, I worked hard to make sure people in my area voted for Hillary. She won Prince William County with ease. If Tom wins the primary, I will work hard for him as well. In the primary, however, I will be working hard for Ralph, and I encourage others to support him.
I want to caution Democrats in avoiding lengthy verbal attacks on supporters from opposing sides. The reason for this is that many communities are under attack. As a Muslim, I worry for the well-being of my family and friends. As a Teacher, I worry for my students and co-workers. We cannot afford to lose this governor’s race. Whomever is the nominee, we will quickly need to rally behind that person.