Democratic candidates for governor debate for first time
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam highlighted his ability to appeal to Republicans, and former congressman Tom Perriello touted his appeal to disillusioned voters as the two met in their first Democratic gubernatorial debate.
Northam had been expecting an easy path to the nomination, but Perriello launched a late campaign that has attracted support of the party’s insurgent wing.
Perriello has been endorsed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Northam has been endorsed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
Saturday night’s debate in Fairfax was their first leading into the June primary. The debate was friendly, but Northam criticized Perriello’s support from the National Rifle Association during his time in Congress, while Perriello chided Northam for accepting support from the state’s powerful utility, Dominion Resources.
Perriello, who represented parts of southwest Virginia in Congress from 2009 to 2011, received strong ratings at the time from the NRA, but he has since distanced himself, and during the debate, he called the NRA a “nutjob, extremist” organization.