Tag: black voters

Tom Perriello is a fighter for Virginia. Period.

Today, Virginians will go to the polls to vote on major-party nominees for Governor of Virginia and other state offices. The most intriguing race on the Virginia ballot today is the Democratic primary for governor, in which Lieutenant Governor Ralph Shearer Northam is seeking a promotion against Thomas Stuart Price “Tom” Perriello, a former U.S. Representative and U.S. State Department official.

At first glance, the Virginia Democrats’ gubernatorial primary might seem to an internet observer of Virginia politics, such as me, like a rerun of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries/caucuses, where Hillary Clinton easily won the Virginia primary against Bernie Sanders. However, Ralph Northam is no Hillary Clinton, and Tom Perriello is no Bernie Sanders.

Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine, wrote this primer piece about the Virginia Democrats’ gubernatorial primary, and here is how he described the candidates:

Likewise, the contest isn’t a race between a liberal or a moderate, or between heterodoxy and orthodoxy. Both (Ralph) Northam and (Tom) Perriello have blemishes on their records that render them imperfect avatars of the progressive movement. Northam backed George W. Bush for president in 2004, and Perriello voted for an anti-abortion amendment to the Affordable Care Act. Both have apologized for their respective apostasy. Both, if elected, would be among the most liberal governors in the state’s history, having campaigned on free community college, a $15 minimum wage, and extensive job training.

Where they differ is in their larger view of where the state’s problems lie. Northam roots Virginia’s ills in gridlock and bills himself as the candidate best able to break that gridlock. “The politics of getting things done in Richmond can be very complicated, and it takes someone who has spent the time to know the issues and develop the relationships with key members of both parties to make progress,” said the lieutenant governor in a Washington Post interview.

Perriello, however, takes a broader view, seeking to change a political culture that is beholden to corporate interests and monopolistic power. “We have a crazy system in Virginia, where we allow unlimited corporate contributions,” said Perriello in a March interview with the American Prospect magazine (full disclosure: (Bouie) worked there from 2010 to 2013). “In an era of deep partisanship in Richmond, the only truly bipartisan consensus is taking money from Dominion Power.” Perriello has positioned himself against entrenched interests and for the small towns, rural enclaves, and inner cities that encompass the state’s landscape. It’s a variation on the populism of Bernie’s campaign, one that captures the spirit of Sanders’ appeal even if it doesn’t match the particulars.

(added context mine)

Again, you do see common themes of the 2016 presidential primaries/caucuses at play, but one thing that Perriello has done that Sanders completely failed at was actually trying to win over a diverse coalition of Democratic voters, which is necessary in Virginia, since a significant majority of Virginia Democratic primary voters are female and people of color are typically around one-third of the Virginia Democratic primary electorate and could be as much as 40% of the Virginia Democratic primary electorate this year. Very early on in his campaign, and unusually for a candidate who has also tried to win over white rural voters, Perriello wrote a Medium post about the strong correlation between income inequality and racial inequality in Virginia. Even if you are, like me, not from Virginia, I strongly recommend reading Perriello’s post, because it’s an important lesson for progressive outreach to people of color.

I encourage Virginia voters who have not already cast an absentee ballot to vote in the Democratic primary for Tom Perriello today!

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Bruce Rauner crony Bill Daley wants his kind of Democrat in the Illinois U.S. Senate race

The conservative publication National Journal is reporting that Bill Daley, a member of Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s transition team prior to Rauner being sworn into office, is behind an effort to convince Andrea Zopp, an appointed member of the Chicago School Board who voted for a Rahm Emanuel-backed proposal to close dozens of Chicago Public Schools, to run for the Democratic nomination in next year’s U.S. Senate race here in Illinois:

Zopp is being recruited by African-American political leaders, as well as former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, to forge an uphill bid against (U.S. Representative Tammy) Duckworth, who already has raised more than $1.5 million for her campaign.

“My consideration isn’t about the turnout,” she said. “My consideration is that as an African-American woman I think I bring perspective that the African-American community and also other communities of color will respond to, and I think that perspective is not represented in the race.”

Duckworth, the only declared candidate in the race so far, was born in Thailand to an American father and Thai mother, and has some Chinese ancestry. Daley, who has been urging Zopp into the race, said Democrats would be “idiots” to not worry about a potential drop-off in black voters if there were no African-American candidate on the ballot in either of the top two slots.

The other two candidates who are considering bids that I’m aware of are U.S. Representative Robin Kelly and State Senator Napoleon Harris. Duckworth, Zopp, Kelly, and Harris are all ethnic minorities: the latter three are black and Duckworth has Thai and Chinese ancestry.

I’ll emphasize the last sentence that I quoted above, as it’s clear to me that Bill Daley is trying to recruit a candidate for public office primarily on the basis of the potential candidate’s skin color. Personally, I think that’s downright racist and no different than Republicans like Mark Kirk making racist remarks about black people. Also, Daley’s claim that black voters won’t turn out without a black candidate running in either the presidential or statewide races is absolutely absurd for multiple reasons. First, there hasn’t been a scenario in which there was no black candidate running on the Democratic ticket for president, vice president, or statewide office in Illinois since 2000, and Democrats won Illinois’s electoral votes for president and vice president, which was the only presidential or statewide contest that was on the ballot, that year. Second, Republicans have won statewide races in Illinois with black Democrats running in other statewide contests. Third, black voters here in Illinois will turn out to vote for any Democratic candidate who will fight to improve the lives of all Illinoisans, especially a candidate that makes a concerted effort to reach out to black voters in an attempt to earn their support. Most Illinois voters don’t care about the race or skin color of candidates, they’re more interested about what candidates stand for.

Remarks similar to what Bill Daley made have backfired on black Democrats in a neighboring state in the past. In a 2012 Milwaukee-area Wisconsin State Senate race, Elizabeth Coggs, a black Democrat who was running in a multi-way primary, told a mostly-black audience at a community conference of some kind to “vote for someone who looks like you”, an apparent reference to Millie Coby, a black Democrat who was running for the Wisconsin State Assembly seat that Coggs gave up to run for state senate against Sandy Pasch, a white Democrat. As a result of Coggs’s remarks, Coggs herself lost to another black Democrat, and Coby lost her race to Pasch.

Bill Daley owes the people of Illinois an apology for his racist remarks as part of his effort to divide Illinois Democrats and progressives against each other in order to promote his Bruce Rauner-style corporate agenda. More importantly, Illinois does not need a corporate hack like Andrea Zopp holding statewide elected office. If Robin Kelly runs for U.S. Senate, I will endorse her campaign. If Kelly does not run, I will endorse Tammy Duckworth.