Ralph Northam’s Struggle To Connect With Rural Virginians Further Stoke Democrat Panic

With less than two weeks until Election Day for Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Democrat panic continues to grow to a fever pitch as Ralph Northam stumbles down the home stretch. Facing growing scandals and narrowing polls, Northam and his campaign’s problems in rural Virginia are now stoking concerns from Democrats about his chances in November.

POLITICO reports that there has been “little evidence of Democratic improvement in rural Virginia” during Northam’s candidacy, as rural Democrat voters worry that they are being ignored by the Party. Northam’s stance on natural gas pipeline projects, opposed by many rural Democrats who backed Tom Perriello in the Party’s primary, has also raised worries, with some claiming he “missed an opportunity” and committed “political malfeasance” on the issue.

With Northam already dealing with the fallout of a “race-based” scandal involving his running mate, a severely botched attempt to tie his opponent to neo-Nazis, and therefusal of Bernie Sanders and other progressives to back his candidacy, Northam’s issues with rural Virginians will only further complicate his path to victory for his struggling campaign.

POLITICO reports:

“But the effort and enthusiasm has come with little evidence of Democratic improvement in rural Virginia, a warning sign for a party preparing to contest Senate, House and gubernatorial races throughout rural America next year.

Northam’s rural polling is little better than Hillary Clinton’s final result in last year’s presidential race. And rural Democrats worry the party still feels it is an unnecessary afterthought compared to the suburban counties Northam hopes to ride to victory.

‘We’re plain Jane,’ said Jay Clarke, a retired history professor who briefly resigned from his post as Rockbridge County Democratic Chairman earlier this fall in order to protest what he saw as the state party’s neglect of rural areas. ‘And the temptress is Northern Virginia down to Richmond and Tidewater. And politicians are easily seduced.’…

In the Democratic primary, former Rep. Tom Perriello campaigned heavily against the pipelines, while Northam said a governor would have little power to stop their construction and avoided taking a firm stance for or against.

Asked if Northam had missed an opportunity by not coming out against the pipelines, Clarke had a simple response: ‘Yes.’ He said volunteers in Rockbridge County had asked for guidance from the Northam campaign on what to say if asked about the pipelines and hadn’t received a response. ‘That’s political malfeasance,”Clarke said.’”