Virginia's 2017 Governor's Race Will Make Trump-Clinton Look Dull

Virginia chooses a governor in 2017.


If you have been moping around at home for the past few months, barely able to stir from the couch because you are so despondent over the lack of excitement in politics these days—well, cheer up. Relief is on the way.

In about nine months Virginians will go to the polls to elect a new governor. If the contest sustains its current trajectory, it will make the Trump-Clinton contest look duller than a chess match in an old folks' home.

We'll be able to thank both Republicans and Democrats for that, but at the moment the GOP has the first claim on the public's gratitude. This is owing in no small measure to Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of Supervisors and immigrant-basher extraordinaire. Stewart is the kind of guy who responds to Donald Trump's most outlandish behavior with: "Not bad. Now hold my beer and watch this."

He launched his campaign by raffling off an AR-15. Nothing wrong with the AR-15, mind you, it's the most popular long gun in the United States. Still, the raffle is the sort of move that appeals chiefly to men with "Molon labe" stickers on the backs of their pickups. Legend has it that this phrase ("come and take them") is how the Spartans responded when Persia demanded they surrender their weapons.

(As stories about Sparta go that one is excellent, but this one—of which there are several variations—is better: After invading Greece, Philip of Macedon sent a message to Sparta: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." Sparta's response: "If.")

More recently, Stewart lit into Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney for reiterating the city's longstanding policy about the police demanding to know people's immigration status (they don't). "Brazen lawlessness," Stewart declared. He also invaded Charlottesville to defend the honor of Robert E. Lee after the city council decided to move a statue of him. "Only tyrants attempt to erase history," he fumed.

Nobody was trying to erase anything, of course—just move a statue from A to B. But Stewart got some mileage out of the line, and then got some more after he was jeered by excitable liberals. "The radical left-wing 'PC Police' are waging an all-out war against Virginia's heritage and history," he declared in an email. "I believe it's time to take a stand. Right here—right now!"

In case you're confused, here's the short version: Immigration police good; PC police bad. Hope that helps.

Across the aisle the Democrats are having a whale of a good time, too. Just as in last year's presidential election, they expected their heir apparent to the nomination—in this case, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam—to cruise to the coronation by unanimous consent. Then Tom Perriello threw a wrench into the works. Or upset the apple cart, or whatever it is people do these days. (Note to self: Find Hipster, request advice regarding correct idiom.)

Perriello served one term in Congress but lost his re-election bid. The Obama administration savagely punished him for doing so by naming him to lead the State Department's 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy & Development Review and then Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Why Perriello didn't file an Eighth Amendment challenge to this is a colossal mystery.

In Congress, Perriello—who represented a fairly conservative district—stayed close to the middle of the road. He opposed an assault-weapons ban, supported a proposal to deny Obamacare subsidies to insurance plans that cover abortion, and supported offshore drilling for fossil fuels.

Gun control, abortion rights and climate change are pretty much the Holy Trinity of Democratic politics, and now that he has started a primary fight Periello has renounced his apostasy and returned to the One True Faith. He even throws around terms like "intersectionality," which is the secret password that gets you into the Left-Wing Identity Politics Clubhouse.

The other day Perriello was caught on tape saying the election of Donald Trump "was a bit like, you know, a political and constitutional September 11." This did not go over well, and Perriello apologized. But the remark is bound to win him points with the Democratic base, because 9/11 was an inside job, and the Trump election was also an inside job (thanks, Comey!), so really when you stop and think about it. … uh, something or other. Anyway, RESIST!

It's too soon to say whether Stewart and Perriello turn out to be Trumps (insurgents who won) or Bernie Sanderses (insurgents who lost). That will depend on whether they can marshal sufficient numbers of Molon Labians and Tommie Bros to overtake their principal rivals: Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie—aka "Enron Ed," aka "Establishment Ed," aka "Expectorating Ed." (Note to self: Not sure about that last one. Look up definition of "expectorate.")

Which means that, for political junkies—and the rest of us—it's going to be a long nine months. Thank goodness.

This column originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

NEXT: Songs of the Presidents

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Nobody was trying to erase anything, of course?just move a statue from A to B.”

    That seems a bit naive.

    1. Especially as the statue came with Lee Park when the former landowner gave the land to the city.

      1. New Orleans said they were moving their Lee statue (and others) to a future museum and would store them in the meantime (A to eventual B). Looks to me like they really don’t intend to do the latter as Biloxi offered to put the statues up until the museum was ready and New Orleans declined.

    2. Lol, moving the statue from the public square to the local landfill is “just moving a statue from A to B”

    3. Perhaps, but this article was very entertaining. Can we get more writing like this, please?

  2. You guys need a libertarian to enter the race and blow the other 2 out of the water. No one will want to give more money and power to the feds knowing now how easily it can and will be used against them.

    1. Won’t work. Unless something has changed rather drastically since I left the area in ’98, Virginia is bitterly divided between Southern Rednecks who are even sicker of the crap the Democrats pull in Washington because they are close enough to see ALL of it and Urban (self styled) Sophisticates with close emotional ties to Washington who actually believe that the Rednecks are illiterate dolts, in spite of living next to them for decades (the Rednecks are frequently autodidacts). The two sides hate each-other poisonously, and will vote for a third side when Hell freezes over.

      Needless to say, the two sides deserve each-other.

      1. I dunno Sarvis got 7% last time around. Hope he runs again, just for the pants-shitting entertainment that will evoke on both sides.

  3. Ed came ridiculously close to beating Warner a few years back so I imagine he’s got the best Republican shot, like with Trump, I can’t imagine NoVa Republicans coming out to vote for Stewart (as fun as he is). Northam is a frighteningly smug gun grabber, I doubt VA like him too much, NoVa probably likes him well enough for that to be irrelevant though.

  4. Why isn’t anyone talking about building a wall around Virginia?

    1. Let’s hope they do, I talked about it regularly when I was there. Damn Yankees, Halfbacks, DC Overflow, and Marylanders.

      1. While the idea is tempting, the most scenic parts of Virginia are looking over at Maryland and thinking, good thing I don’t live over there. A wall would ruin that feeling.

        1. Fine, make it out of clear plastic and call it an “aesthetic perimeter.”

  5. Note to self: Find Hipster, request advice regarding correct idiom.

    Not to Hinkle: Don’t waste your time. By the time you got to use the correct idiom, it wouldn’t be the correct one anymore – not since it went mainstream and sold out.

    1. He even throws around terms like “intersectionality,” which is the secret password that gets you into the Left-Wing Identity Politics Clubhouse.

      But not a membership.

  6. Stewart is the kind of guy who responds to Donald Trump’s most outlandish behavior with: “Not bad. Now hold my beer and watch this.”

    He’s got my vote.

  7. Sounds like I should just be thankful I don’t live in VA.

    1. You mean you weren’t already?
      Although to be fair, it’s pretty easy to ignore the place once you get far enough away.

  8. Well I’m glad I moved to NC, our governor elections are just about bathrooms.

    BTW, Sparta was a fascist military dictatorship that enslaved its neighbors and killed off unworthy children. No need to romanticize it. Also that movie was BS, there were thousands of Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae and the Athenian navy probably had more to do with the victory than the Spartans. Leonidas just had his army (along with over 1,000 other Greeks, mostly Thespians) stay after defeat was guaranteed because some Oracle high on hallucinogens told him he should die there.

    Sorry for going off tangent there.

  9. Currently live in VA. I don’t watch the local news on tv but Wagner is on the radio all the time and seems to be going nowhere mostly talking shit about Riggle’s distillery.

  10. This is why I don’t pay attention to local news – there’s a whole lotta awful politicians in this state. More per-capita than most places.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.