Let’s be honest. This has been a terrible week for Ralph Northam — and you can tell be the messaging.
First, the polls showing Gillespie neck and neck have rattled a Northam campaign that by rights believed it should be up by 10 points, or at the very least matching the Democratic generic ballot.
For all his campaigning against big money in politics, Northam now seems all too happy to accept big money when it suits him.
That news was followed up with a disastrous debate performance, which has seen the Northam campaign not only abandon its messaging, but obsess itself with a fixation over “fake news” (from sites such as Media Matters, Think Progress, Daily Kos, etc.) over the course of four days. Four days.
Now comes the Washington Post looking to even up the score, as Northam’s sole plan relating to campaign finance reform comes into question as Northam violates the very spirit of his own plan:
Northam’s defenders might argue these well-heeled donors are not “special interests” because they supposedly each serve a universally commendable end (after all, who’s against “gun safety”?). Even if that were true, such a defense concedes the candidate’s so-called campaign-finance reform plan is less about government integrity and more about preventing Republican-friendly donors from supporting conservative causes. “Free speech for me, but not for thee,” indeed.
Northam tries to dilute his affiliation with moneyed donors by claiming his campaign is funded by “45,000 individual contributions with 92 percent being $100 or less, and more than 85% of the total amount raised coming from Virginians.” It’s a clever but unpersuasive tactic; the disparity in political power between the $1 million donor and the $100 donor does not vanish simply because there are more $100 donors. Is it even worth asking which person, if both asked, would be more likely to get a face-to-face meeting with a Gov. Northam?
So much for a people-driven campaign. Would Perriello be making the same undisciplined mistakes? Probably not… but Northam’s handlers simply can’t pull themselves out of their tailspin with only six weeks left to go.