After months of dodging and ducking questions on whether he supports energy pipeline construction projects in Virginia, Democrat candidate for Virginia governor Ralph Northam finally admitted his support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline this morning after being pressed in an interview on the John Fredericks Show. In doing so, Northam is taking the opposite position of his running mate Justin Fairfax, his primary opponent Tom Perriello, and many of his party’s base voters, who have already been fuming at Northam for refusing to oppose pipelines:
JOHN FREDERICKS: “Alright so it sounds like what you’re saying that if it’s approved by the federal FERC agency, if they get that signed off, that you as – if you’re governor of Virginia – that you’re going to nothing to hinder it, stand in the way, or delay it, that you’re going to be enthusiastic and go forward with this. Is that what I’ve heard?”
RALPH NORTHAM: “Sure and you know again it’s – the permitting process is – not to get into it, to the weeds of all this but you know we’ve gone from a blank permit to more of a site-specific just to look at where there’s streams and rivers so you know if it’s done safely and responsibly then it’s going to move forward.”
While Northam may have finally given up on his failed attempt to sit on both sides of the fence on pipeline construction, the issue isn’t going away anytime soon for him. During the Democrats’ divisive primary, Perriello spent months stoking anti-pipeline anger among Virginia Democrats opposed to the projects, attacking Northam for his refusal to come out against them. Northam was constantly harassed on the trail by members of his own party trying to get him to provide a straight answer. And on the night Northam won the nomination, anti-pipeline protesters hijacked the stage of his victory rally and made clear they “aren’t going anywhere” as long as Northam remains unopposed to pipeline construction.
Now that Northam has decided to come out in favor of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, he is certain to draw even more intense anger from far-left voters who have made clear they oppose pipeline projects, causing further divisions for Virginia Democrats that will hurt their party’s chances of success this November.