domingo, 11 de junio de 2017

Democrats bet on Trump in Virginia governor’s race

Behind it all is the one supporting character common to both campaigns: President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump's 5-point loss in Virginia cemented Democrats’ determination that the former red state has turned blue.

Virginia’s Democratic primary on Tuesday is shaping up to be the first real test of liberalism in the Trump era, with both candidates lurching for increasingly leftward policies to position themselves in contrast with President Donald Trump.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam has used TV ads to call Trump a “narcissistic maniac.” Former Rep. Tom Perriello has proclaimed that Trump is an “authoritarian.” Both candidates have taken decidedly liberal positions on abortion, guns, criminal justice and college tuition — while using Trump bashing as a foundation of their campaigns. While Northam has the support of the Democratic establishment throughout Virginia and Perriello brings a potent Bernie Sanders endorsement to the primary, the simmering question for the winner is how this race to the left in the Democratic primary — which may appeal to Northern Virginia Democrats — will play across the rest of the state in the general election.

Virginia's gubernatorial elections often develop into contrasts with a new president, but there's a stark difference between now and how Republican candidate Bob McDonnell handled then-President Barack Obama in 2009. While critical of Obama's economic record, the future governor also regularly praised Obama for supporting school choice, straddling the partisan divide.

The Democrats have felt no need to do the same with the less popular Trump, whose approval rating was at 36 percent in a recent Washington Post-George Mason University poll of Virginia.

“Let's prove that Donald Trump's values are not Virginia values,” Perriello says in one of his closing television ads. Northam has arguably gone further, using his TV campaign to call Trump a “narcissistic maniac” — though Perriello answered Thursday with an ad of his own calling Trump "authoritarian," and invoking Virginia's motto: "Sic Semper Tyrannis," a shortened version of a Latin phrase meaning "Thus always I bring death to tyrants." Perriello has also lined up Khizr Khan — who became famous for his Democratic National Convention speech invoking his son, who died in the Iraq War, and slamming Trump — to campaign with him on Monday, the day before the primary.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, the only Democratic member of Virginia’s congressional delegation to remain neutral in the primary — the others have all lined up behind Northam — said it’s unclear whether voters will respond to Perriello’s vision of the governorship.

“Can Tom ride the anti-Trump wave, which is very strong here in Northern Virginia?” Connolly pondered in a recent phone interview. “Can he make the case that the governor’s office should be a platform for the resistance?”

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