Virginia Democrat Ralph Northam’s problem within his party isn’t going away, and if anything, it’s getting worse. Left-wing activists continue to hammer Northam over his support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and some are even defecting to libertarian Cliff Hyra, the only candidate opposed to the job-creating project.
You know things are getting bad when The Washington Post is covering the schism, despite their long history of carrying water for democratic candidates:
Northam spent months trying to dodge his actual position on the pipeline before confirming his support for the project in recent interviews and the first gubernatorial debate.
Environmentalists are beyond upset with Northam, and it’s grown to the point of an insurrection on his left flank:
Josh Stanfield of Activate Virginia, a grass-roots group recruiting Democratic candidates for House of Delegates races, has found himself drawn into the governor’s contest by the pipelines. He posted an essay on the Blue Virginia blog last week, slamming Northam and encouraging people to continue speaking out.
Supporting the pipelines “ends up completely in line with the Trump regime,” Stanfield wrote. He accused Northam of breaking with Democratic values because of a crass calculation that defying the protesters will not “translate into the loss of a significant bloc of votes.”
In addition, and as I noted above, some activists are going as far as to abandon Northam entirely. Democrats were counting on a “Trump schism” in the Republican Party that is yet to materialize itself in poll numbers. The shoe is on the other foot:
Some are taking a hard look at Cliff Hyra, a Libertarian running for governor who opposes the pipelines. If the race between Northam and Gillespie is tight, Hyra could play the spoiler — giving the protesters more power than they seem to have now.
“I spent a lifetime primarily voting for the lesser evil,” said Mara Robbins, an environmentalist in Floyd County who has worked against the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Those of us who are taking this stand are getting slammed right and left by party loyalists, by people saying this is what happened with Hillary and Trump and Bernie [Sanders] supporters who wouldn’t vote for Hillary.
“The most common thing we hear is that this is just going to get Gillespie elected. Well, if that’s what Northam wants, that’s what’s going to happen,” she said. “I can’t think that way anymore.”
Anti-pipeline voters may not make up a huge contingent at the end of the day, but many of these environmentalist activists are normally counted upon to donate, knock doors, and make phone calls for Virginia Democrats. Without their work on the ground, Northam could be bleeding more votes than the environmentalists themselves.
Shaun Kenney at The Republican Standard sees some parallels with the 2013 election, where Democrats swept despite a relatively unfavorable national environment:
At the moment, the Democrats find themselves in very much the same condition as the Republicans in Virginia did in 2013: divided, rudderless, and at odds. Meanwhile, the Republicans find themselves in quite the similar camp: united, energized against the Democrats, and memetic-resistant against the anti-Trump narrative in Washington.
Democrats will attempt to downplay the divide in their party, but when The Washington Post and other liberal water carriers can’t help but comment, you know it’s real, and not going away any time soon.