Perriello: A breath of fresh air in a tough fight
Say what you want about Tom Perriello, Virginia's 5th district congressman who is in a tough reelection fight. He does stick to his principles.
Despite the intense anti-Washington mood that stretches from the 5th district's dying textile towns to the University of Virginia mecca of Charlottesville, Perriello is not afraid of saying he's glad he stuck by fellow Democrats Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.
He did so this week when he used a Charlotttesville doctor's office to tout Obamacare, whose first changes, such as forbidding insurance companies from denying children coverage due to preexisting conditions, take effect today.
Bucking tough opposition from Republican challenger Robert Hurt of Chatham, who has promised to defund Obamacare if elected, Periello says that health-care law will eventually lower insurance costs. Straight talk such as this flies in the face of the giant anti-Obama reaction that is building throughout the Old Dominion. It is fueling campaigns such as Hurt's, fostering substantial growth of the Tea Party movement and forcing traditional GOP congressmen such as Henrico County's Eric Cantor to recast themselves as anti-Washington populists even though they voted a strict pro-Washington ticket during the Bush years.
This kind of duplicity doesn't get past Tea Party folk. Yes, they have Perriello in their sights, but they are also critical of Hurt for what they say were his pro-tax stances as a state legislator.
Conventional wisdom says Perriello is toast. He's constantly fighting observations that the Democratic establishment has written him off.
And chances are he probably is a goner. But at least he doesn't mamby-pamby about his party, as Rep. Glenn Nye of Norfolk does. A Democrat, Nye goes so far as avoiding calling himself a Democrat. With Perriello, what you see is what you get -- a breath of fresh air in the anti-Obama miasma.
| September 23, 2010; 1:10 PM ET
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