It is now official. Tom Perriello is running for Governor of Virginia. Perriello, former congressman in the 5th District, posted the video announcement on Facebook:
I’m running for Governor because I love Virginia. And for Virginians, we can do better.
From the Blue Ridge to the Bay, this is a Commonwealth of stunning natural beauty and inspiring, resilient communities. Growing up here, we treated our neighbors with respect and believed that everyone should have a fair shot at the education and skills they needed to flourish, regardless of their region, race or religion. This is the Commonwealth that gave my father, who had little more than loving parents, a chance at a great university and the American dream.
But too many families are getting left out of that dream today. Those who once built and grew the things that drove our economy have seen their jobs disappear. Those lucky enough to live near jobs can hardly afford the housing or spend hours away from family fighting traffic or the cable company. We all struggle to balance the demands of work with the need for more time with our families. It just shouldn’t be this hard.
Virginians deserve a system that works for them, but DC lobbyists drew our political maps to benefit their clients instead of our citizens. Too many common sense solutions die at the hands of radical redistricting and powerful special interests. But we can work together to find these solutions, and we can continue to be a firewall against hate, corruption, and an assault on the Virginia values of decency and progress.
The stakes are high. Let’s fight together. Let’s win together.
The news that Perriello was possibly about to jump into the race broke Wednesday night and quickly spread, catching many by surprise since Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam was the only candidate who had announced and, presumably, would have no opposition. The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin tweeted that an unnamed source said Perriello had called Northam Wednesday to tell him of his intention to run.
By Thursday when Perriello made his official announcement, a website, TomforVirginia.com, was in place as well as his “Tom 17” logo. And many were talking about the unexpected turn of events which was reminiscent of 2013 when Republican Ken Cuccinelli unexpectedly jumped into the GOP race against Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. At least Northam was given a heads-up.
Bearing Drift colleague Brian Schoeneman has an excellent analysis piece this morning (see It’s Official, Tom Perriello Is Running For Governor). Reading Facebook and checking Democratic sites has shown there is some enthusiasm for Perriello, and one commenter even made the “next in line” argument as a reason why Northam should be challenged. Again, overtures of 2013 only on the other side of the aisle.
Brian notes how this affects the Republican side of the gubernatorial race:
For Republicans, the announcement is probably the best thing that could have happened. First, it creates instant disunity in the Democratic Party, and sets up a difficult fight – something Democrats really haven’t had for a while when it comes to statewide offices. McAuliffe ran unopposed in 2013, and Creigh Deeds easily defeated both other candidates in 2009 by close to 25%.
Democrats have not had a truly contested Democratic primary for governor in decades. There’s clearly a lot of bad blood in the party after the national loss in 2016, even if Virginia Democrats can crow that they won the state for Hillary Clinton.
Second, it’s important to remember that Republicans have beaten Perriello before in a straight up fight. Democrats can’t claim Perriello lost in 2010 because of redistricting, because the district was the same one that he won in 2008 on President Obama’s coattails. He was an energetic supporter of Obamacare, cap and trade and other liberal policies, and it was that support that cost him his job in 2010. Those stances haven’t aged well.
Finally, and most important in my opinion, having a legitimately contested Democratic primary on the same day as the Republican primary will reduce the risk of crossover voting by Democrats, so the expected charges that could fly in GOP nominating fights about Democratic interference will be nullified. The GOP races will be straight up, decided by Republicans alone.
2017 just got a whole lot more interesting.
Ralph Northam is a well-respected physician who is considered a moderate Democrat. Tom Perriello is the upstart, the go-getter, the campaigner. After losing his congressional seat, he went to work in the Obama administration but, with the GOP now moving into power in D.C., it looks like he’s in search of a new day job.
On the Republican side, there’s never been a contest with me because my candidate is Ed Gillespie. I worked with him as a member of State Central Committee when he was state party chairman, and I backed him when he ran for U.S. Senate (and came within a whisker of beating Democratic incumbent Mark Warner). Ed Gillespie is the best choice for Virginia.