It started with a screaming headline from Blue Virginia: Northam gives the finger to progressives.
Northam’s attempt to reach out to Trump populists by going on The John Fredericks Radio Show may have seemed like a calculated and smart attempt to appeal to Northam’s more Trumpian bona fides.
Needless to say, when pressed about his support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Northam’s answer was vacillating at best and moderately perplexing to a progressive base that voted in mass numbers for Tom Perriello based solely his opposition to the clean energy project:
Once again, we come back to the penultimate problem for the Ralph Northam campaign — Northam had to run as someone he was not in order to win the nomination, and is finding it impossible to come back to the center.
Over at Blue Virginia, the reaction to Northam’s radio interview was instantaneous and visceral. “Like many people I know, this left me seething angry. Not surprised, mind you, but angry nonetheless,” wrote Blue Virginia commentator Cindy. “Because as soon as Tom Perriello lost, I feared that the candidate who’d been refusing to give a clear answer on the pipelines, who’d taken over $200,000 from Dominion and who owned an unknown amount of stock in Dominion Power, might not take the right position on this critical issue.”
Realizing that he has kicked the progressive hornet’s nest, Northam tried walking back his support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in front of progressive pressure group C’ville Rising — though not to the satisfaction of Blue Virginia’s Lowell Feld.
Northam had to run as someone he was not in order to win the nomination, and is finding it impossible to come back to the center.
The crowd in Charlottesville listed their demands in full. Give Dominion Energy its donations back, and come out with a full voice and oppose the energy project. Northam has thus far demurred and is consenting to negotiations with anti-energy pressure groups, which makes this look and sound like negotiations with North Korea over nuclear weapons rather than a unified party heading into the dog days of summer.
So here is where things get truly interesting. Just days ago, Justin Fairfax was praised to the skies for his robust opposition to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in a narrowly divided Virginia State Senate.
Perriello supporters — a far thornier problem for the Democratic Party to keep inside their coalition when considering than the Republican rubix cube — aren’t just a tiny sliver of the Democratic base, but a quarter million strong voice.
Northam was no strong on clean energy during his primary contest, finding himself forced to run outside of his comfort zone on energy concerns as well as Virginia’s right to work laws, the right to life, and a host of other common sense and enduring Virginia values.
How much more oxygen does Northam have left to breathe before he either decides he wants to win the election, or placate the extremist wing of his own party (again)?