Introducing Tom Perriello at York County Town Hall

The following is the text of an introductory speech I gave at the York County Town Hall and Candidate Meet & Greet on May 17, 2017. Tom Perriello is a former Virginia congressman and a Democratic candidate for Governor. He will face Virginia Lt. Governor Ralph Northam on the primary ballot on June 13, 2017.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Commonwealth, I am honored to introduce Mr. Tom Perriello tonight. I would like to thank everyone for taking time out of their busy lives to come out this evening and participate in our democracy. I’d also like to thank the man who has brought us all together, the Republican president.

I have only a few minutes to explain why I’m supporting Tom this fall, in the hopes that I can persuade you to support him. I know he will do a much better job of that, and his mom better still, if you’re lucky enough to hear her.

For me, the biggest difference between Tom and his opponent is what you’re going to experience tonight: how passionately and intelligently he speaks about the issues that matter most for our future as a Commonwealth and a country, and how fiercely he confronts the bigotry of a movement that seeks to move Virginia back into the 50s — the 1850s, that is.

Virginia, the capitol of the Confederacy, has recently been considered a battleground state, but the future of Virginia is BLUE. Democrats have won 10 of the last 13 statewide elections: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Commonwealth Attorney, the last four senate races, and the last 3 presidential elections. Those three losses came in 2009, in response to the election of Barack Obama, before the rise of the tea party.

And right there is why Virginia’s off-off-year elections matter as the nation’s bellwether. The Democratic Party’s nominee for governor this fall — whoever that may be has my vote — will have at his back an army of resistance unlike any other I have seen. The only question we have to ask is this: How big do we want that army to be?

Do we want to repeat the mistakes of 2016 and support the pre-ordained, pragmatic, establishment candidate, or do we want to support one who challenges the status quo, who stands behind the ideals of a progressive vision versus what’s politically acceptable in our Capitol?

Two weeks ago, as former President Obama accepted the JFK Profiles in Courage award, he spoke of the freshman members of Congress who voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and lost their seats in 2010, as did Mr. Perriello, and noted that they had demonstrated true political courage, saying:

“the desire to maintain a reputation for integrity that is stronger than the desire to maintain office, a conscience, personal standard of ethics, integrity, morality that is stronger than the pressures of public disapproval or party disapproval, a faith that the right course would ultimately be vindicated, a faith that overcame fear of public reprisal.
It was a personal sacrifice.”

What good is political power if it is not used?

Virginia Democrats, members of the resistance, fellow citizens, Answer me this:

Do you want to WIN this November?

Do you want a WAVE of Democratic victories across the state that will give us back the House of Delegates and set us on the path back to a true progressive majority in the General Assembly?

Or do you want a TSUNAMI of resistance to surge across this great state, from Harrisonburg to Hampton, Petersburg to Poquoson, Wise County to Williamsburg to Washington and the foundations of the White House?

We will look back on these days as the moment when not just Virginia, but the entire country began to move on from the Trump administration and Republican control of the state legislature, and moved forward, toward a new Virginia Way, a way of conviction and courage — a way led by the next governor of Virginia, Tom Perriello.

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