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Choosing Tom …

April 14th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Virginia Democrats face a real choice in the primary as to who will be the Democratic nominee for (and next) Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia: current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam or former Congressman Tom Perriello.  For those with an understanding of climate change’s challenges, risks, and opportunities, the choice is quite clear:

Tom Perriello for Governor.

CRITICAL NOTE:  While I expect to be helping get Tom Perriello elected as the next Governor of Virginia come November, I — and would hope this is true for all those concerned about climate change, clean energy, reality-based policy-making (as opposed to #AlternativeFacts’ dystopias) — will work just as passionately to get Ralph Northam elected if he is the nominee.  While there is a meaningful difference between Perriello and Northam, as discussed after the fold, both of them are the light of day across a swath of policy/moral/ethical arenas compared to the dark dystopia and hatred that dominate the potential GOP nominees.

Why care?

For too long, as a Virginian, the vast majority of my political focus has been — in essence — to the north east, to DC and national politics.  With the Commonwealth gerrymandered into GOP legislative domination (honestly, this should be a highly competitive legislature, with a rough balance between the parties in both chambers, if democracy truly ruled) and Virginia Democrats dominated by Third Way pre-compromising and the climate-denialist Dominion Power (here, here, …) representing the Commonwealth’s most powerful political force (through contributions and otherwise), with one having limited hours in a day and a life to lead, again, my attention has local (in my County/community) and north east to DC rather than south east to Richmond. 2017 demands that this change …

  • The Commonwealth’s elections will be critical sign posts in the Trump era — with Democracy flourish and rebuke the @RealDonaldTrump kleptocratic kakistocracy* and it’s GOP enablers or will our descent into dystopia accelerate.
  • For too long, Virginia is behind the curve on creating a clean-energy future (for example, ranked 35th of states in energy efficiency and with mediocre solar/clean energy programs) despite its tremendous resources (human, business, fiscal, educational, natural). This can — and should — change.
  • A real choice exists in defining the Commonwealth’s future — a continued ‘muddling through’, on a range of issues, or seizing Virginians’ passion to help achieve real change across a spectrum of issues and arenas.

Why Tom?

Considering these points drives my decision to support Tom Perriello

  • Climate / clean energy leadership:  Tom is calling for Virginia to take a leading role in combining smart climate actions with economic development. He leaned forward in calling for opposition to unnecessary and damaging pipelines with highlighting that these aren’t just bad for the environment but will also be harmful economically. He isn’t new to this arena, having been truly “Energy Smart” in his founding of Avaaz, his Congressional campaign in 2008, and his term in office.  Perriello came close to keeping his seat, in a R-leaning district during the Tea Party mania, even as he was one of the very few Representatives to robustly defend his support for the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy & Security Act.
  • Progressive: Tom has seized the mantle of a progressive vision and that Virginia’s governor’s mansion can stand as a real bulwark against Trump overreach for Virginians and the rest of the nation. And, he has a vision — a call — for a progressive populism to bring real results to Virginians from the DC suburbs to mountain ‘coal’ country.
  • Experienced around world across range of issues: from human rights in Sierre Leone to helping drive better approaches in the Department of State to his Congressional term to running a major PAC, Tom has a rich set of experiences that — uniformly — impress me and provide substance for a robust world view.
  • Thinker/motivator: Having had the chance to watch Tom and read some of his work over the years, his intellect and thoughtfulness has impressed me.

In addition, Tom is generating real enthusiasm — whether the huge numbers of page views on Facebook or the size of audiences or his impressive fundraising or his position in the polls — that bodes well for devastating his GOP (climate-zombie) opponent in November and having coat-tails to get other Democratic candidates elected.

Why not Ralph?


While my choice is primary ‘for Tom’, several things have driven me ‘away from’ Ralph Northam in the primary:

  • Late to the game supporting Democratic candidates as Northam:

Northam says he can’t remember whether he backed Democrats in any governor or Senate races. And rumors about his political leanings before his career persist: There’s a running joke in Richmond that the first Democrat he ever voted for was himself.

  • Links to Dominion Virginia Power (“Dominion Power has donated nearly $100,000 to Northam’s campaigns over the years.”) suggest that continued lip service to climate (virtual green washing) from the Governor’s mansion, as has occurred under Terry, rather than aggressive efforts to move Virginia to the front of the pack.
  • Energy level:  perhaps unfairly from and uniquely to me, but Northam fails to create enthusiasm — over the past decade, I cannot recall a single moment whether watching videos, reading emails or news reports, where I sat up straight expressing ‘yes’ with enthusiasm.
  • Style of reacting to Perriello’s challenge: Reading the barrage of emails and communications from Northam and a range of surrogates — all the messages about endorsements and attacks on Perriello (such as for not being active in the Commonwealth while he was serving the nation around the world) — created an uneasy feeling. (That uneasiness has simply strengthened with more than over-the-top (profanity-laden) surrogate attacks on Perriello.) In essence, it has felt like being told ‘Support Ralph because he is the anointed one and it is his turn … and, who the [blank] is that Tom guy to think he can challenge that anointment?’

As per the note above, when it comes to the general: on the off chance that Ralph Northam is the Democratic Party nominee, I will have no hesitation supporting him. Strengths include his military background, his strong support for women’s reproductive rights and more sensible health insurance programs for Virginians, his experience in and knowledge of Richmond, his robust relationships with Democratic politicians across the Commonwealth, … And, well, do take a look at his issues page. There is a lot of value there and much to hope becomes Commonwealth policy.

A thought past the primary … As an aside, in my decades as a voter in the Commonwealth, this is the first time that I can recall feeling like I face a primary with two good choices.  When either of them is sworn in as Virginia’s next Governor, the Commonwealth will be well served.  A hope from this voter: that the two of them and their supporters find a way that they battle through the primary such that they can coalesce to fight together to keep the Governor’s mansion blue.  And, that there be an honest path for the primary loser to have a genuine offer for a meaningful path for service to the Commonwealth’s future within the next Governor’s administration.



Kakistocracy is, sadly, truly a key term for understanding the Trump regime: ‘government by the least qualified and/or most unprincipled in society.” Learning that term was one of the few ‘good things about Trump’ a la:

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John Egan // Apr 23, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Adam – I would like to congratulate you on helping to create the atmosphere in which someone like Marine Le Pen could receive nearly 25% of the French presidential vote.

    Your constant false flag attacks on me are, well, sickening. The fate of the Western world lies on the shoulders of someone who has advocated for thoughtful win-win-win-win-win strategies to create jobs (across society, urban / suburban / rural), strengthen the economy, improve health, improve security, and reduce climate impacts.

    Your embrace of serial distorters like Bjorn Lomborg — caught, repeatedly, in deception — and promotion of ‘dealing with climate can wait’ rather than ‘here are ways to address problems like economic inequality and rural challenges while tackling climate change’ is telling.

    Sure, “Adam” is the problem and the Le Pen and Trump enabler uber alles …

    There is a connection between the Democratic loss of West Virginia, the Labour loss of Copelend, and the Socialist loss of Henin-Beaumont. Can an urban, upper-middle-class Democratic Party achieve a majority?

    Hmmm … and ‘my’ advocacy of that is found where …?

    Btw, Perriello is spending time/energy in rural (RED) areas of Virginia — not just trying to win votes but (interpreting) making statement that, if elected, he will work for all of Virginia and not just ‘urban, upper-middle-class’ constituents.

  • 2 A Siegel // May 4, 2017 at 8:29 am

    To emphasize the disingenuous (or outright deceitful) nature of Egan’s attacks on me, here is substance from one of my Win-Win-Win pieces:

    As we strive to stop digging the holes deeper and climb our way out, we can seek to deal with these challenges in a stove-piped manner or address them with W6 solutions that have wins across multiple arenas:

    – Support energy independence
    – Create and protect jobs
    – Foster economic activity (cost effectively)
    – Strengthen long-term economic prospects
    – Address negative environmental impacts (from local pollution to acidification of the oceans)
    – Help mitigate climate change

    As some are wont to say, crises create opportunities. One good piece of news, amid all the serious concerns that that list above should create for all of us, is the reality that many Win-Win-Win-Win-Win-Win (Win to the Sixth) opportunities lie before us, if we choose to seize them.

    Look at those six bullets — at least three (and more honestly four) directly address the issue arenas/constituencies that Egan falsely asserts that I somehow casually, cynically, or otherwise ignore. There are easily hundreds of my posts and concepts along these lines, seeking to find and share paths for creating value streams while attacking climate change. With me, all Egan has done is continuously (falsely) assert that ‘green’ is the reason for downfall of progressive policy and tarring me as somehow the instigator of/in the middle of all the policies that he attacks/despises.

  • 3 John Egan // May 6, 2017 at 12:12 am

    No, Adam. The hubris and sanctimony of climate activists remind me of nothing more than the WCTU of a century ago. Not only do you hold an overwhelming presumption that you are right, but those who do not agree – even partially – are seen as intellectually and morally compromised.

    My morning begins six days/week with the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal along with material from across the web and world … hmmm … guess that I have zero ability to think about, absorb, consider others’ perspectives …

    You don’t need a PhD to perceive this – and folks from Uniontown (Dukakis 66%) to Kenosha (Dukakis 58%) run for cover.

    I often use the phrase, “When somebody has to drive twice as far to make half as much, they don’t take kindly to those arguing that gas priced should be doubled.” If you have been to Youngstown, Ohio or Davenport, Iowa lately – both areas which used to be strongly Dem – you might understand.

    have been

    And working people have a deep suspicion of supposed “win-win” scenarios.

    In my work, I have often advocated for starting the clean energy ‘jobs’ and getting momemtum moving. That was what the whole “jobs’ series was about.
    Personally, not a huge advocate of ‘job training’ programs if there aren’t actually ‘jobs’ in place — best ‘job training’, if trying to get people to move from one industry to another, would be apprenticeship-like. Living wage (with benefits) while being trained with bump in salary as training concludes with a pretty much guaranteed employment if you successfully do training.

    Oh sure, they know that the well-heeled will get their share – always. But loggers getting high pay with benefits in the Pacific Northwest were assured of “new economy” jobs a generation ago and their children are now flipping burgers or cleaning motel rooms for minimum wage while Portlanders are building vacation homes in Coos Bay. Coos County is yet another that used to be strongly Dem and is now overwhelmingly GOP.

    And you did precisely the same when you accused my views of a mixed energy economy as being “Neanderthal”. Great. Really great. Like so many others, you sure know how to build coalitions. Plus, when you really get mad, you and your peeps yell, “Denier!” One of the most offensive of terms, but utterly meaningless at this point.

    Yeah, I know you did the Happy Dance when Sen. Landrieu and other Democrats who supported KXL were defeated in 2014.

    Hmm … you “Know” I ‘did the Happy Dance”? Must of been sleep-dancing, since I certainly don’t recall that.
    Re Landrieu (and, for example, McCaskill) I pushed (such as or to try to get them to include more sensible energy/climate into their discussions and didn’t invest my (limited) energy in helping their election campaigns — but I certainly didn’t do ‘Happy Dances’ as to their absence. Do I love Joe Manchin re climate / environmental issues? Absolutely not. Do I think he could better represent West Virginia interests while leading his citizens toward a cleaner energy future AND winning elections? Absolutely (almost decade old example: Do I see that Manchin, as a D Senator, helps as a voice in other policy arenas and would have — with a few more D Senators — have people like Merkley chairing committees? Absolutely.

    But guess what? Were there 3 or 4 more Dem Senators right now, it would be a whole different ballgame. We wouldn’t be looking at a reactionary Supreme Court for the next generation. We wouldn’t be facing 24 million Americans without access to health care.

    Was it worth it? All over KXL? Which is going to get built anyway.

    You own it 100%.

    Again, I own it 100% … stop dumping on me your (mainly misdirected) anger at a broader environmental world when a pretty decent share of it isn’t representative of me and what I have worked on and what I have communicated.