Local Commentary

Editorial: Ralph Northam For Governor

As usual in such lower-profile elections, the outcome of next Tuesday’s primary in Virginia will be determined by turnout, or lack thereof.

Virginia is in a very precarious position in this very precarious political era right now. Danger and opportunity are more vivid than ever here. When you take into account the record number of vetoes current Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe has imposed on bad legislation coming from Republican controlled legislature during his tenure, control of the governor’s office, as well as that of the legislature, becomes paramount, something that every Virginian should be seriously concerned about.

One of the lessons for Americans of last November’s presidential election is that election outcomes matter, and usually more than the casual observer may concede. That’s why last November’s election outcome is still being questioned at the highest levels of our government, if not the outcome, certainly the process and the terrifying prospect of significant intervention into it by a hostile world power.

As McAuliffe must by Virginia law move out of his office next January (Virginia’s unique among U.S. states for its one-term governor rule), will his replacement be as strong as he has been in many ways, but especially in protecting Virginians from very excessive pro-gun and anti-woman legislation?

It is out of an abundance of concern that a a good and qualified successor take over for McAuliffe that we endorse Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam, the current lieutenant governor, in next Tuesday’s primary against an energetic and formidable opponent, former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello.

For many, especially in progressive Northern Virginia, Perriello appears the more attractive candidate because he is postured as more progressive than Northam.

But this is not the time for Democrats to be stampeding in that direction, especially in the enormously diverse and politically divided Commonwealth. Democrats have been very successful in Virginia, including McAuliffe and former governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, including in each’s advance to the U.S. Senate, by drawing enough of the electorate from both parties toward the political middle. This approach has served Virginia well.

That’s the formula for success in statewide elections in Virginia, and it includes Northam’s victory running for lieutenant governor four years ago.

In addition, with his background as a medical doctor, as a governor Northam promises to be a profoundly effective high-profile national spokesman for sanity in the issues of national health care and women’s health, two of the most divisive issues that pit rational folks against an irrational, ideologically-based slice of the electorate.

In other races Tuesday, we endorse Democrat Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor, Mark Herring running unopposed for the Democratic nod for attorney general, and on the GOP side, anyone but arch-conservative Corey Stewart for governor.