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Cooper endorses Perriello

In early January, I received an alert from the Richmond Times Dispatch that the following day former U.S. Rep.Tom Perriello would announce his entrance to the race for governor of Virginia.

I was excited that my former congressman would be running for governor, but torn for several reasons: the timing, and that I had endorsed Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam last fall when it appeared that he was the only candidate seeking the Democratic nomination.

I shared these concerns with my inner circle and told them that Tom would have to earn my endorsement. Over the past four months, Tom has done that and this is how.

We need a governor who has a vision for Virginia, beyond fundraising and opposing President Donald Trump. I receive daily emails in response to words and actions from either Trump or congressional Republicans. As a millennial, I have minimal interest in daily donation requests. I want to learn about what you would do as governor. Last week, the American Health Care Act narrowly passed the U.S. House.

I thought to myself, “This could be Ralph Northam’s moment. As a doctor, Northam should present a state version of the Affordable Care Act to insure all Virginians, much like Romney did in Massachusetts.” Unfortunately, I received a stale email asking for $5 to oppose Trump — a request that led me on a short Twitter tirade. Conversely, Perriello’s email inspired me to do more.

He did not ask for money, but the email made me want to contribute financially to his campaign because it showed resolve and the tenacity needed to stimulate progress for all Virginians. Aside from the previous example, Northam has consistently missed opportunities to show us his vision to carry Virginia forward. There has been healthy discussion about Perriello’s history in Congress. He was my former congressman and, truthfully, I am not a fan of a few of his votes. However, two things need to be addressed, one of which is how some are characterizing Perriello as “a fly by night progressive,” which is simply not true. He has taken the time to listen to issues from organizers throughout Virginia, learned from his past experiences and developed into an amazing candidate for governor of Virginia.

Secondly, comparatively, I prefer Perriello’s history far more than I do Northam’s. I was offended when Northam admitted to voting for George W. Bush twice. If Northam had the audacity to vote for one of the worst presidents in American history twice, then who else has he supported? As a state senator, Northam had several questionable votes regarding gun safety. He opposed fingerprint background checks, supported The Castle Doctrine (essentially, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law) and opposed gun buyback programs.

My decision to endorse Perriello comes after a great deal of observation and conversation. I will be happy to support whomever is the Democratic nominee for governor, but I truly hope it is Perriello.

Taikein Cooper lives in Farmville and is chair of the Prince Edward County Democratic Committee. His email address is taikeincooper@gmail.com.