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Congressman Tom Perriello looks vulnerable this fall, a heartwarming thought for area conservatives.
Perriello represents a congressional district that is mostly conservative and he’s done some things that leave conservatives looking forward to seeing him become a one-term congressman. Conservatives were very upset when he voted for President Obama’s cap and trade bill. Conservatives weren’t happy with his vote in favor of ObamaCare, either. For most conservatives, the “Democrats’” liberal agenda looks like Lenin Lite, and they see Perriello working hand in glove with “Democratic” Party leaders to legislate this agenda.
Add to this the fact that polls show the American public to be in a mood to throw the rascals out when it comes to incumbents. The last times, in recent years, when anti-incumbent sentiments were so high were in 1994 and 2006. In each of those years, the party that controlled Congress got flushed and voters may, once again, have their hands on the toilet handle.
Furthermore, Perriello has been mentioned by name on a few occasions in news stories as being vulnerable, twice in the Wall Street Journal, alone, last year.
In spite of Perriello’s apparent vulnerability, conservatives in the 5th Congressional District need to keep a couple of things in mind.
In the first place, Perriello unseated an incumbent in 2008 with a well-financed, creative campaign. Incumbents usually have an edge in that their incumbency makes it easy for them to create newsworthy events. Perriello, as a challenger, was able to do this with his “tithing” program, donating his time and his staff’s time to do work at various non-profit organizations. I think that it’s safe to assume that political opponents are not going to catch him by surprise this year, and we can expect another well-financed, creative Perriello campaign.
Local conservatives should also keep in mind that Tom Perriello is not the Antichrist. At least, I don’t think he is. There are some people in the 5th District who approve of Perriello’s voting record. There are also cases when Perriello has done something right. For example, I have to give him credit for his interest in veterans and veterans’ issues.
Local conservatives should keep this all in mind if they find themselves feeling underwhelmed by the candidate that the Republicans’ primary produces in June. Those who aren’t happy about the Republicans’ candidate should think long and hard before making, or supporting, an independent or third party bid. A third candidate in the race will most likely split the conservative vote and send Perriello back to Congress for another two years. Is this what 5th District conservatives want?
Maybe this will indeed turn out to be what they want. Last fall, Republicans in a New York Congressional district nominated a candidate named Dede Scozzafava for a special election to fill a vacant House seat. Scozzafava had a voting record in New York’s legislature that was actually to the left of many “Democrats.” Faced with a choice between a liberal and a liberal, conservatives revolted, backed a third party candidate and the “Democrat” won the special election. That outcome made no difference as Scozzafava was such a liberal and the loss hopefully taught Republicans a lesson.
That may happen here if Republicans end up nominating someone who won’t vote in a substantially different manner than Perriello. In that case, backing a third party or independent bid, and reelecting Perriello as a result, may appear to be worth the effort in order to teach Republicans another lesson about nominating RINOS.
Maybe an independent candidate can actually win, but conservatives need to be careful before encouraging somebody to try. The Republicans’ candidate will probably be a better choice than Tom Perriello.