The lieutenant governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, won a hard fought statewide race in 2013 and is now running for governor. He has been endorsed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has a one-term limit, and nearly every Democratic officeholder in the state. He is a progressive with a great record.
Northam is a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose having led the fight against the now infamous transvaginal ultrasound mandate, which would have required Virginia women seeking an abortion to undergo an intrusive and unnecessary procedure.
He chairs the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success, and helped secure a federal grant creating up to 13,000 pre-K education spots for children in low-income families and advocates for greater access to prenatal care. He chairs the Governor’s Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response and led a team tasked with identifying challenges and suggesting improvements to the state’s complex system of mental health services.
Northam cast the tie-breaking vote to block legislation that would have let Virginians carry concealed weapons without a permit. He knows guns and alcohol are a deadly combination. In the state Senate, he fought legislation to allow people to bring guns into bars and other places where alcohol was served and voted to ban concealed carry privileges for those convicted of driving under the influence or public intoxication in other states.
When in the Virginia Senate, Northam met Virginia Tech survivors who came to Richmond to advocate for commonsense gun safety reform. He has been partners with them ever since. He voted to close the gun show loophole and to keep the One-Handgun-A-Month limit. As governor, he will continue those fights and has promised to reinstate the commonwealth’s successful One-Handgun-A-Month policy limiting the number of handguns an individual can purchase. He is not opposed to owning guns. He’s an avid outdoorsman, gun owner, hunter, and sports shooter from his days growing up in Accomack, attending VMI, and serving in the military.
Northam is a strong ally of the LGBT community, opposing bathroom bills that discriminate against transgender individuals and fighting to protect LGBT people from workplace and adoption discrimination in Virginia.
He understands the state and the need to grow rural Virginia and is committed to bringing broadband Internet access to every Virginia community. He’s committed to fighting for teacher pay raises and fair funding for rural public schools. As governor, when working to expand economic opportunities, he won’t forget rural Virginia.
In the past year, under McAuliffe and Lt. Governor Northam, Virginia has doubled the number of veterans placed in jobs through the Virginia Values Veterans program. Northam supported legislation to establish a program to connect returning military medics to private sector healthcare jobs. He is committed to continue to grow these programs until there is no longer any veteran joblessness in Virginia.
So there is a great, tested progressive candidate for governor who understands the state and how to win. Not good enough for Tom Perriello, the one-term congressman, trying to claim the mantle of progressive candidate with the support of Bernie Sanders and out-of-state money. The Washington Post reported he received money from groups like Avaaz that don’t report their donors and raise money from foreign nationals. One donor gave him $500,000. Fifty-seven percent of his donations come from out of state. For many progressive Virginians his problem as Slate reported is his record. During his one term in Congress, Perriello voted against the assault weapons ban and boasted about it when he tried to get reelected. Another sticking point is his vote for the so-called Stupak amendment. “The Stupak amendment would’ve prohibited insurance companies that participate in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges from covering abortion forcing insurance companies on the exchanges to drop abortion coverage for all women.”
We understand politicians have big egos. Yet running against a proven progressive candidate like Northam who already won statewide in a state like Virginia is the wrong thing to do. Perriello has made no case why his candidacy is worth Democrats spending millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours on a primary. Democrats have won all statewide offices in Virginia and that time and money would be better spent working to win the state legislature and preparing to take back every Virginia Republican congressional seat in 2018.
Ralph Northam deserves your support in the June 13 primary. Join gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin who is co-hosting a fundraiser for Northam on Sunday, May 21 in Alexandria.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.