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Former congressman making surprise run for Virginia governor


Former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello is making a surprise bid for governor, shaking up what was once thought to be a settled Democratic nomination.

The former one-term congressman from Charlottesville and State Department announced Thursday his intention to run. Perriello, a favorite of some progressives, will face off against Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a moderate, in the Democratic primary.

In a post on Twitter, Perriello said he's running to help keep Virginia a "firewall vs Trump." Virginia was the only southern state Republican Donald Trump did not win in last year's presidential election.

But Perriello also put out a video echoing many of Trump's populist talking points.

"Politicians from Washington to Richmond write their own self-serving rules, and seem committed to dividing and distracting us, while they rig the system against the middle class," Perriello said.

A spokesman for Northam did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Perriello's decision to run shocked much of Virginia's political establishment, as Northam has been considered the presumptive Democratic nominee for more than a year. Perriello also kept a tight lid on his interest in running.

A spokesman for Northam did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Perriello faces an uphill climb. The primary is in June and Northam has effectively been running for nearly two years, raising more than $1.5 million and locking up key endorsements of party leaders like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

A Yale Law School graduate, Perriello narrowly won a congressional seat in central Virginia in 2008 when President Barack Obama swept into office. Perriello lost two years later in a Republican wave election. He flirted with a gubernatorial run in 2013, but has been largely absent from state politics in recent years. He most recently served as a special State Department envoy to Africa.

Reaction to Perriello's decision to run was mixed among state Democrats. State Sen. Dick Saslaw said Perriello was on an ill-advised "suicide mission" that would only succeed in hurting his party's eventual nominee.

"The only thing he's capable of doing is making Ralph spend some money," Saslaw said.

But former state Del. Michael Futrell, who was a key surrogate to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential run, said the party's liberal voters could gravitate to Perriello over the more moderate Northam, but it's not a foregone conclusion.

"These Sanders supporters, they aren't just looking for names, they're looking to see what you're willing to fight for," Futrell said.

Virginia's gubernatorial contest is expected to be one of the most closely watched races in the country this year, as it will be the first competitive contest in a swing state after Trump's victory.

On the Republican side, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is squaring off against a former Trump campaign state chairman, Corey Stewart, and state Sen. Frank Wagner.

Comments


putin’s byline - “under my thumb” about chosen leader

russia won, america lost - get over it. . . got it


Democrats have elections like the Soviets.  They give the pretense of having a choice but only put 1 person on the ballot and then praise how “democratic” they are.

Glad to see the congressman enter the race and am guessing he will probably win.


Democrats should just stop having primaries “for show” and just start having party nomination events of their chosen leaders.


I love how Democrats hate competition and get upset when they can’t hold a coronation for their “chosen” candidate (cf. Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders).

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