Former Obama administration aide and Congressman Tom Perriello entered the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination as a Bernie Sanders’ wing alternative to establishment favorite Lt. Governor Ralph Northam. As Perriello’s stock has risen, so has his support from more establishment elements within the Democratic party.
First, former Hillary Clinton aide Neera Tanden threw her support behind him.
I’m proud to personally support my friend & former colleague @tomperriello for VA gov! Brilliant mind w/ a huge heart is great combo for VA
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) March 7, 2017
Now former counselor to President Barack Obama and Campaign Chairman for Hillary Clinton in 2016, John Podesta announces his support in a piece for the Washington Post.
The recent race for Democratic National Committee chairman was frequently presented as a fight for the party’s future between its activist wing, which backed Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), and the establishment wing, which backed former labor secretary Tom Perez. That framing was misleading: Ellison and Perez are both longtime progressives. It was a big choice, but one thing was always clear about the Democratic Party’s direction: Progressivism would win.
Now, in Virginia, another battle for the future of the Democratic Party is being waged by two progressives: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello. Both are strong candidates for Virginia governor, but Perriello is the better choice for the party’s future during a Trump presidency.
As much as Democrats want to down play the “establishment” vs. “progressive” fight within the party, it’s clear that it exists. With some leading “establishment” figures migrating towards Perriello, including possibly Obama himself, the calculation maybe that it is better to bring the progressive wing into the fold rather than beat it back by lining up in force behind an “establishment” figure.
Should that be the case and we see it repeated, it would certainly be a different approach than Republicans took at the height of the TEA party movement. While those battles created some harsh moments and potentially lost seats for the GOP, much of that history has been swept under the rug following the ensuing victories.