The Washington Post has all the dirty details demonstrating that the Northam “bromance” with the BernieBros simply never was:
The lieutenant governor has been shouted down by protesters at public events and drawn sniping on party blogs, all over a single issue: energy companies building two natural gas pipelines in rural parts of the state. Northam won’t oppose the projects. Some Democrats despise them.
While a few worry that the open dissent will wreck his chances this November, numbers suggest that there aren’t enough disgruntled pipeline opponents to make a difference in the election. After all, the pipelines are being built in areas with far more natural beauty than voters.
This has to be the official line the Northam campaign is putting out against the environmentalists with concerns over the pipeline and natural energy resources in general.
…a dismissive, arrogant, and heavy-handed a dismissal as they come.
Josh Stanfield of Activate Virginia, a grass-roots group recruiting Democratic candidates for House of Delegates races, has found himself drawn into the governor’s contest by the pipelines. He posted an essay on the Blue Virginia blog last week, slamming Northam and encouraging people to continue speaking out.
Supporting the pipelines “ends up completely in line with the Trump regime,” Stanfield wrote. He accused Northam of breaking with Democratic values because of a crass calculation that defying the protesters will not “translate into the loss of a significant bloc of votes.”
There’s a truth to that.
Curious here in the editorializing that Gregory Schneider (author of the piece for the WaPo) offers — that somehow, the pipeline drama is just that, egged on by the Gillespie camp.
Is there truth to that? Of a sort… but if for no other reason than the gulf between progressives and liberals on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and a multitude of other issues — Virginia’s right to work statute, transgenderism in the classroom, and a bevy of divisive (liberal) social issues — are tearing the Democratic base right in two.
Schneider attempts to point back towards the Stewart-Gillespie rift, but in truth there were far fewer protest votes against Gillespie than there were against Northam, and the key players boosting the Stewart effort have mostly found employment with Jill Vogel’s lieutenant governor campaign while Stewart has planted his flag on another hill — a nascent U.S. Senate campaign.
In short, there is no rift on the right. Yet there is a widening gyre within Virginia’s left that shows no signs of abating.
Meanwhile, a now ten-year running rift on the Democratic left remains a violent death struggle as to which faction will remain dominant. At the moment, the Democrats find themselves in very much the same condition as the Republicans in Virginia did in 2013: divided, rudderless, and at odds. Meanwhile, the Republicans find themselves in quite the similar camp: united, energized against the Democrats, and memetic-resistant against the anti-Trump narrative in Washington.
Interestingly enough, there is one candidate for governor that has taken a strong position against the pipeline: Libertarian Cliff Hyra, who carries not only a liberaltarian streak, but appeals to that elusive Richmond hipster vote that everyone worries about (not really, but one gets the point).
In 2013, numbers suggested that then-LP candidate Robert Sarvis pulled away more votes from McAuliffe than the bumbling Cuccinelli campaign. Should 2017 demonstrate this theme to be a narrative, Virginia Democrats — who currently hold all three statewide seats yet find themselves on the outside of the House of Delegates — will struggle to maintain a status quo ante bellum, thus handing Republicans not only a major statewide victory, but embellishing a national narrative that will send Democrats into midterms with yet another repudiation at the polls during the Trump era.