Democrats ‘haven’t been destroying each other’ in Virginia primary, McAuliffe says. They may be starting.

Jon Ward
Senior Political Correspondent
Virginia gubernatorial candidates Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam. (Photos: Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The two Democrats locked in a tight primary contest for governor sprinted around the commonwealth Saturday, hoping to alert enough of their own supporters about the fact that the election will be held Tuesday.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam kicked off a day full of events here just across the river from Washington, D.C., meeting with volunteers who were heading out to knock on doors, and showing off his support from the state’s Democratic establishment.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the state’s two Democratic senators, Sen. Tim Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner, joined Northam at several campaign events.

“This is about governance. People talk about what they want to do. With Ralph, we don’t need to talk about it. He has done it,” McAuliffe told about 40 Northam canvassers on a quiet side street.

From left, Sen. Tim Kaine, supporter Hazel Rigby, Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in Arlington, Va., on June 10, 2017. (Photo: Jon Ward/Yahoo News)

It was a subtle knock at Northam’s opponent, former Rep. Tom Perriello, who at 42 is 15 years younger than the lieutenant governor and has spent much of the last few years abroad as a special envoy to the Republic of the Congo for then-President Barack Obama.

Perriello got some rest Saturday morning after barnstorming the state for 24 hours straight — from Friday morning until Saturday morning — doing 15 events across Virginia. He was scheduled to hold events in his hometown of Charlottesville in the afternoon.

At Northam’s morning event here, McAuliffe said in an interview that he was glad that the two Democratic candidates “haven’t been destroying each other.”

But in fact the race has gone negative in the last few days with the appearance of an online ad attacking Perriello that was created by an outside group that does not have to disclose its donors until after Tuesday’s primary.

The ad, which hits Perriello for his past efforts to limit federal funding for abortion in Obama’s 2010 health care bill, was criticized by Northam. But on Saturday, Perriello’s campaign demanded that Northam call on the group to disclose its donors.

“As voters make up their minds before heading to the polls Tuesday, they deserve to know whether [Northam’s] top allies are bankrolling these attack ads in the closing days of this primary,” Perriello said.

Tom Perriello greets supporters in front of the venue where progressive and labor groups from across the Commonwealth hosted a forum for him and fellow candidate Ralph Northam to discuss Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race on May 2, 2017, in Arlington, Va. (Photo: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

And the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the media firm used to make the online video ad had ties to McAuliffe.

“We’ve just got to get through Tuesday,” McAuliffe said. “The key will be Wednesday; we’ll have our unity rally. Everybody comes back together. … And listen: if Tom were to win Tuesday night, I’ll be the first guy out there Wednesday morning.”

“For me, it’s about having a Democrat, for all these things I just talked to you about,” the governor added. “But I am loyal to Ralph because Ralph has been loyal to me. … We’ve been through battles, and he’s been at my side in the battle.”

In an interview with Yahoo News, Northam made sure to mention women’s rights several times, as well as gun control, another issue on which he has sought to contrast his views with Perriello’s. And Northam said that he is the candidate who will more effectively stand up to President Trump.

“There is so much anti-Washington and anti-Trump sentiment,” Northam said. “Virginians are looking for a leader who will stand up and have a backbone and say, ‘This is not what we’re going to have in Virginia.’ I bring that to the table as well.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam greets attendees before a debate at a union hall in Richmond, Va., on May 9, 2017. The two candidates will face off in the primary on June 13. (Photo: Steve Helber/AP)

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