The Democratic primary was teed up for Ralph Northam, then he got a surprise opponent who wants to make it a referendum on the soul of the party.
FAIRFAX, Va.—It’s St. Patrick’s Day, a Friday night at a Shriners Hall. The cream of the Northern Virginia Democratic establishment is here, and while they’re not exactly drunk, they’re on their way to killing four kegs of Harp and a couple of cases of Guinness. Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam is working the crowd of 1,200 buttoned-down post-Millennials. Actually, the crowd is working him, surging toward him not long after he enters the building. His staffers indulge in a beer or a glass of wine, but he doesn’t. The first rule of running for office is never be photographed holding a drink, even on St. Patrick’s Day, and people are taking a lot of photographs.
This fundraiser, hosted annually by Representative Gerry Connolly, is unquestionably friendly territory for a candidate who has made an appearance for the past four years straight—basically ever since Northam started running to succeed his boss, Governor Terry McAuliffe. “I have a lot of friends in here because I’ve been doing this for a while,” he says.
Northam, 57, has locked up the endorsement of nearly every politician who matters in Virginia, starting with McAuliffe, who sports an approval rating above 50 percent and in the 80s among Democrats. Both of Virginia’s Democratic senators, Mark Warner and former vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, have backed Northam. As has every Democrat in the state legislature and every Democratic congressman save Connolly, who is remaining neutral.
In a normal election year, that would add up to a free pass to the general election in November. But this isn’t a normal year. The Virginia governor’s race, which by a quirk of the election calendar is the first big contest after the presidential vote, has historically been seen as a referendum on the new occupant of the White House. And that occupant is Donald Trump, which explains the presence at Connolly’s party of another candidate, Representative Tom Perriello.
( personally i want rick boucher BUT I CANT HAVE NICE THINGSCollapse )
fwiw i think Perriello's a big sweetheart which is probably one of the reasons why he is so unsuited for politics (he was voted in the big wave of '08 and ousted in the Tea Party raeg of '10 also Gillespie is more of a Libertarian than a Repub which is unusual and came daggone close to beating Warner so... it is gonna be an interesting year in virginia