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Tom Davis on Tom Perriello: 'Still very viable'

Rosalind Helderman

Republicans may be crowing over knocking off U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello in Virginia's fifth congressional district, just days after President Obama campaigned for him in Charlottesville, but Perriello's got one admirer within the GOP: former Rep. Tom Davis.

in an interview Wednesday, Davis praised Perriello for sticking to principle and not running from his Congressional record during his losing campaign against state Sen. Robert Hurt.

"Everyone went the other way and Perriello stood his ground," he said. "He was the exception, and it's why he gets everyone's begrudging admiration."

He continued: "He's got nothing to be ashamed of. He fought a good fight. He was just in the wrong fight."

As for Perriello's future, Davis predicted the freshman congressman is hardly done in politics.

"In my opinion, he is still very viable," Davis said. "The sky's the limit for him...He's universally respected. If he wants to stay in politics, he's the kind of person you want in politics. He's principled. He's earnest. He's polite. He's all of those things. He can come up to Fairfax, and he'll probably win forever."

By Rosalind Helderman  | November 3, 2010; 3:23 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Tom Perriello was, bar none, my favorite candidate this year. As Rep. Davis said, his integrity and conviction were palpable, and I have to believe that his surprisingly decent showing last night -- a four-point loss in a district that barely elected him over Virgil Goode in the pro-Democratic wave of 2008 -- was a product of those leadership qualities.

While Democrats in more moderate districts fled from records of votes and decisions that they privately knew were the right ones, Tom stood his ground. Moderates and independents in Virginia's 5th seem to have recognized his courage, and I suspect that many who otherwise would not have supported him did for that reason.

Tom's narrow loss changes the narrative of last night's election. It was certainly a victory for conservatives, although, given the degree to which the economy influenced the vote, it seems that the right's social and more extreme government-reduction agendas were not, and will not be, the deciding issues for the decisive swing voters. What the election also came down to, however, was voter antipathy toward "entrenched" politicians. Seeing little good come out of Washington with regard to the economy, moderates generally turn on the party in power, and especially it's most party-oriented members.

Perriello benefited from that anti-incumbent sentiment. He was proud to be liberal, but not proud to be a member of a particular political party. He was not beholden to Beltway interests, and he refused to regard his reelection prospects as a legitimate factor when making moral decisions. It is therefore hard to see how he could have done much better as a Democrat yesterday: for better viability, he would have had to sell his moral soul. Ironically, in an effort to do so, he would have lost much of that independent and energized-liberal vote that almost put him over the edge.

I look forward to seeing him in future leadership, in government or advocacy. He has an extraordinary future.

Posted by: Akger117 | November 3, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry, I am very confused is Tom Davis still a Republican?
when he is not bashing George Bush or urging statehood for DC,
he is constantly undercutting Republicans. His wife loses a Senate race to a Democrat that was more conservative than she was a while back, and on Tuesday morning he says there is nothing really ideological about the GOP taking congress, it is just part of an anti incumbency movement. Tom, get with the program, McCain lost, we have a very conservative Governor and Attorney General, more than 75% of the state's congressional delegation is now with the GOP, I would say there was something more going on here.
Davis has more in common with Jim Webb than he does with most Republican candidates. Please, change parties.

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | November 3, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Another example of how far right the
Republican party has gone. Tom Davis is now attacked for not being conservative enough. The truth is that America is a centrist country. The Republican party has no centrist left. After Tuesday, most of the Democratic centrist were sent packing. Congratulations Tea Party. You won! Good luck governing.

Posted by: RichieRichA | November 4, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Davis is obviously confused. Perriello spent four months running away from his record. He had ads saying he was an "independent" and didn't have a single ad that I saw with the word Democrat in it.

He tried his best to play the "independent" angle, and then at the last second had Obama come in to throw a hail mary because he was still losing in the polls.

Perriello didn't embrace his congressional record in this race until 2 days before the election. And at that point it was the proverbial kitchen sink.

Posted by: ButterflyDragon | November 4, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

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