The Democratic Party in Virginia thought it had cleared the path for the moderate Lt. Governor Ralph Northam to be the gubernatorial nominee to go against Ed Gillespie in the general election in November. Then Tom Perriello came along. Tom was a former member of the House of Representatives who served from 2009-11. He lost his seat in the Tea Party wave of 2010 and they were helped in no small part thanks to Mr. Perriello's vote for Obamacare.
Tom was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and was active in politics from a young age, even knocking on doors for Douglas Wilder, Virginia's first and only African-American governor, and the first African-American governor of any state. Perriello has since been fighting his entire life for progressive causes.
Ralph Northam is from Nassawadox, Virginia. He has served as the lieutenant governor under Terry McAuliffe. He has Mr. McAuliffe's support as well as the support of Virginia's senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, who won their respective terms as governor as well as their senate seats on centrist campaigns. Mr. Perriello's entry into the race has pushed Northam to the left.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two progressive icons and titans in the senate have endorsed Tom. This has added real credibility to a campaign that some Virginia primary voters did not know if they could trust. Tom also recently received the endorsement of Blue Virginia, a progressive website that usually does not endorse in primary races, but felt compelled by Mr. Perriello's message of change and equality.
I believe this governor's race is important, not only to the commonwealth, but to the future of the Democratic Party. Mr. Perriello has a unique opportunity to be a symbol of progressive change that will be a blueprint for congressional campaigns in 2018.
Tom Perriello is also not afraid to show that he is progressive and to the left of center. He wears it like a badge of honor even in rural and conservative communities that voted for Donald Trump, because he knows that having a strong economic message relates to voters better than identity politics.
Mr. Perriello also opposes two oil pipelines that would not benefit Virginia's workers. He also supports two years of free community college, a $15 an hour minimum wage, and better access to health care for all in the commonwealth. He also supports campaign finance reform so utilities like Dominion don't hold power over state politics.
Mr. Northam supports the pipelines and would like to cut taxes. These are the two largest issues that the candidates disagree on. Other issues like the minimum wage they agree on. Also, Mr. Northam once called health care a "privilege."
Tom has the intelligence and the drive to be a fantastic governor for all Virginians. It is up to the people whether to give the progressive a shot and I'm all for him! If you live in the commonwealth and plan to vote, I hope it is for Tom!